No Radiation Leak at Ukrainian Nuclear Powerplant After Fighting

Ukraine says Russian troops took over the site, but Ukrainians are still operating the plant

No radiation was released by a fire that started during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Ukrainian officials said on Friday.

The fire broke out at a training building outside of Zaporizhzhia’s main reactor complex, and Ukraine’s emergency services said that Ukrainian firefighters had extinguished the blaze.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, said the training building was hit by a Russian “projectile” during fighting around the facility. Ukrainian authorities said Russian troops have taken over the site, but Ukrainians are still operating the plant.

Enerhoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. Grossi said two people were injured by the fire at the training building.

For their part, Russia is telling a much different story and is blaming the fire on Ukrainian saboteurs. According to Reuters, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the nuclear plant had been under Russian control since February 28 and was operating normally.

Konashenkov said early in the morning on March 4, Russian troops came under fire from the windows of the training building. He said the Russians returned fire and that the “sabotage group” set the fire as they abandoned the training building.

There’s no way to verify Russia’s claims, and conflicting accounts of battles have been common since Russia invaded.

When the incident at Zaporizhzhia was first reported, Ukrainian officials warned an explosion of the plant’s reactors could be worse than Chernobyl.

“Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl!” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video to Facebook on the attack where he urged for more Western action in the conflict. “Only immediate European action can stop Russian troops,” he said.

At the UN, the US and its allies condemned Russia for its alleged attack. “Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

On Twitter, the US Embassy in Kyiv said attacking a nuclear power plant is a “war crime,” but the State Department is reportedly urging other embassies not to share the tweet, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC and CNN.

“All – do not/not retweet Embassy Kyiv’s tweet on shelling of the facility being a possible war crime” the message reportedly reads. “If you have retweeted it – un-retweet it ASAP.” It’s not clear why the memo was sent, but the US’s ally Israel frequently launches covert attacks against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.