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Zaporizhzhia power plant under threat but Chernobyl-sized disaster unlikely: experts

The fighting around Europe’s largest power plant in Zaporizhzhia, under Russian control since March, has intensified over the last week and along with it concerns that a nuclear disaster the size of Chernobyl could be hanging in the air.

World leaders and the United Nations’ watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have demanded that a mission be allowed to visit the site and assess the damage. Calls for cessation of armed struggle in the area have been made over a perceived fear that an explosion of one or more of the reactors could lead to the spreading of airborne radioactive particles, among other directions toward Europe.

But nuclear experts cited by CNN ease such a concern and dispel some of the more alarmist messages. According to them, the main threat is closest to the plant itself and leaves no reason to issue Europe-wide alerts. The experts CNN reached out to were particularly wary of any comparisons to the Chernobyl disaster, but not of the possibility that such a scenario could repeat itself. They have found it, as CNN put it, “incredibly unlikely”.

It’s not very likely that this plant will be damaged,” the head of the European Nuclear Society Leon Cizelj told CNN. “In the very unlikely case that it is, the radioactive problem would mostly affect Ukrainians that live nearby” and not spread throughout eastern Europe as was the case with Chernobyl.

“If we used past experience, Fukushima could be a comparison of the worst-case scenario,” Mr Cizelj added, referring to the serious but more local scope meltdown at the Japanese plant in 2011.

The experts went on to identify the inhabitants of the vicinity of the plant and the compound’s staff as the people most endangered by a potential failure of the plant.

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