Warfare near nuclear installations a disaster risk, UN envoy warns

Krzysztof Szczerski said the situation around the Zaporizhzhia plant raised the chances of damage to its nuclear reactors, which would result in a disaster felt not only by Ukraine, but also its neighbouring countries. Jason Szenes/PAP/EPA

Military operations in the vicinity of nuclear installations carry the risk of a nuclear disaster, Poland's UN ambassador said on Friday, commenting on the Russians' seizure of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Krzysztof Szczerski said the situation around the Zaporizhzhia plant raised the chances of damage to its nuclear reactors, which would result in a disaster felt not only by Ukraine, but also its neighbouring countries.

"This seriously raises the risk of freeing radioactive materials, which would threaten the object's physical integrity," Szczerski said, adding that the region, including Poland, still remembered the long-term effects on human health of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine's Chernobyl plant.

Earlier on Friday the International Atomic Energy Agency said no reactors at the Zaporizhzhia plant had been damaged and radiation in the area was within normal limits.

Early on Friday morning, Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhia plant, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe. The shelling set the complex on fire, raising fears across the continent of a nuclear disaster. Russia launched an all-out attack on Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, invading from the north, east and south as well as hitting targets inside the country in missile attacks and air raids.