Kharkiv nuclear facility safe but war poses big risks, says institute director

KHARKIV, Ukraine, March 11 (Reuters) – The director of a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv said on Friday that the institute’s grounds had been hit by Russian shells in recent battles, but that the core housing the nuclear fuel remains intact.

He warned, however, that any future damage to the heart’s equipment could pose a hazard.

“The facility, in working condition, poses no danger,” said Mykola Shulga, director general of the Institute of Physics and Technology of the National Science Center in Kharkiv.

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“However, if there is physical damage, a nuclear fuel leak is possible, radioactive elements (could leak) outside,” he told Reuters, speaking to Reuters. inside the facility.

“It would obviously be a huge, huge problem for the environment. In other words, what would happen would be comparable to a similar situation in any nuclear power plant.”

While the interior areas of the institute were unharmed, some of the exterior walls of the building were damaged by shrapnel and windows were blown out.

Ukraine and its allies are concerned about the risk the Russian invasion poses to the country’s nuclear facilities, including power plants and research centers.

Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is now in Russian hands. During fighting with Ukrainian forces in the area, a fire broke out in a building on the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said something similar happened at the Chernobyl radioactive waste facility near the disused power station. which was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Both sites are under the control of Russian forces but are operated by Ukrainian personnel under conditions which, according to the IAEA, endanger the security of the installations.

Shulga dismissed recent Russian media reports that Ukraine was developing a “dirty bomb” nuclear weapon. Source-based reports cite no evidence.

“It is impossible to make nuclear weapons out of these nuclear fuel cells,” he said.

“The fake news circulating in the media recently about our institute working to produce nuclear weapons is absolutely false. Moreover, everything going on at the institute is fully controlled by the IAEA.”

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” the country. He denies having targeted civilians.

Ukraine and its allies blame Moscow for an unprovoked invasion that sparked a humanitarian catastrophe in which hundreds of civilians were killed and millions displaced.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has seen some of the worst shelling since the conflict began on February 24.

(This story corrects to change signature spelling)

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Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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