- Russia is firing artillery from a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
- The aggressor sparked outrage when it captured the Zaporizhzhia plant and has now militarized it.
- Experts say the risk of catastrophe is low — but Ukraine still feels unable to hit a nuclear site.
Russian troops are firing artillery at Ukrainian targets from a nuclear power plant, breaking another norm of war, The New York Times reported.
The war’s aggressor selected the Zaporizhzhia site because it made it difficult for Ukrainian troops to retaliate, Ukrainian officials told The Times.
Russian forces have been firing at Nikopol, a Ukrainian town across the river from the plant, since mid-July, The Times said.
The capture of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in March caused international outrage, as the fighting led to a fire on the site that raised fears the integrity of the nuclear reactors could be threatened.
The invasion of Ukraine marks one of the first times nuclear infrastructure has been in the line of fire during heavy conflict.
Ukrainian troops have hesitated to retaliate for fear that their strikes may hit one of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors or its stored nuclear waste.
“How can we respond?” Col. Serhiy Shatalov asked The Times. “This is a nuclear site.”
Ukraine has made some limited attempts to attack the site, including precision strikes with kamikaze drones, a tweet from Ukraine’s defense ministry said.
Experts previously told Insider the risk of a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia was very low. But active conflict raises that risk, they said.
Only a direct impact from a powerful weapon would threaten the integrity of the thick protection for the radioactive core, a former nuclear engineer and exiled mayor of the city that hosts the plant told The Times.
But the conflict may damage stored nuclear waste and lead to contamination of the nearby area, experts previously told Insider.
It’s also putting pressure on the usual safety processes for the site, leaving workers stressed and unable to perform at their best, Insider previously reported. The workers have been subjected to harsh interrogations and torture with electrical shocks, The Times reported, citing the former mayor.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest such plant in Europe, with six nuclear reactors. There are three other active nuclear power plants in the country.