• Russia is firing artillery from a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, per The New York Times.
  • Russia 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 nearby nuclear power plant, The New York Times reported, breaking another norm of war.

Russia selected the Zaporizhzhia site because it is very difficult for Ukrainian troops to retaliate, Ukrainian officials told The Times.

An annotated map shows the location of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, at the border of the Russian controlled area in Ukraine. Foto: UK ministry of defence/Insider

Russian forces have been firing at Nikopol, a Ukrainian town across the river from the plant, since mid-July, per the Times. 

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 that the integrity of the nuclear reactors could be threatened.

The invasion of Ukraine is one of the first times that 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?" Colonel 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, according to a tweet from Ukraine's defense ministry.

Men are shown removing the rubble after shelling in Nikopol, Ukraine, on July 20. Foto: Dmytro Smolyenko/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Experts previously told Insider that the risk of a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia is 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 is 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, per The Times. 

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. 






Read the original article on Business Insider