An engineer who fled from Ukraine‘s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant under the anonymised name of Olga fears the situation could be much worse than the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 when an estimated 4,000 people died, according to the World Health Organisation. As Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the Russian-held nuclear plant, Western allies – Britain, France, Germany and the US – have stressed the need to ensure the safety of nuclear installations. But amid ongoing shelling, Olga is concerned the fighting could turn into a nuclear disaster reminiscent of Chernobyl.
“I am afraid that this could turn out 10 times worse,” Olga told DW News.
“In Zaporizhzhia, we have six reactors and a storage facility for nuclear fuel.
“Chernobyl was tiny compared to that.”
Olga also worries for her colleagues who stayed at the plant.
“I would say 70 percent of my colleagues no longer show up for work,” Olga said.
“There are simply too afraid. You can imagine what that means for the ongoing operations – and especially for the security precautions on site.”
Ukraine says Russian troops have turned the nuclear power plant into a fortress where safety protocol is ignored.
“They use the site to put pressure on the Ukrainian government. To blackmail them,” Olga said, adding: “The power plant is currently a big trump card in the war.”