What happens if a nuclear power plant explodes? Ukraine warns of disaster "10 times larger than Chernobyl" as fire breaks out at Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian officials warned fire in Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant can lead to a crisis (Image via Getty Images/Dmytro Smolyenko and Corbis)
Ukrainian officials warned fire in Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant can lead to a crisis (Image via Getty Images/Dmytro Smolyenko and Corbis)

A fire broke out in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the early hours of Friday, as per Ukrainian officials. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter to share that Russian troops were allegedly firing the nuclear power plant "from all sides."

The minister warned that if the plant blows up due to continued shelling, it can cause a disaster “10 times larger than Chernobyl.” He further urged the troops to cease the fire with immediate effect and asked them to allow firefighters to create a security zone in the area:

Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!

Andriy Tuz, a spokesperson for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, also reported the incident through a video posted on Telegram. Tuz also spoke to the Associated Press to issue a warning about the possible threat:

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire. There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”
Watching a livstream of Russian forces firing at Ukrainian positions at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant at Energodar — Europe’s largest. Soldiers fire rockets while car alarms go off. Seems like a building is on fire. This is insane

However, Tuz clarified that there has been no threat of radiation spreading from the plant so far. Livestream video from the nuclear plant showed at least one building on fire, with sounds of explosions and car alarms in the background.

A look into the effects of nuclear power plant explosion

Nuclear power plants are often described as power stations that use heat from nuclear reactors to generate electricity. According to the Virginia Department of Health, a nuclear power plant produces steam for generating electricity while using uranium fuel.

Therefore, in case of a nuclear power plant explosion, steam and radioactive materials may be released from the venue as a result of the pressure, heat, and rapid release of energy from the nuclear reactors.


Nuclear explosions can generate radioactive debris and radiation that are often considered harmful to humans. These materials can also cause radiation sickness, moderate to severe burns, eye damage, as well as long-term illnesses like radiation-induced cancer.

A severe nuclear power plant explosion can even have adverse effects on climate that can last for months to years.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is considered to be one of the worst nuclear accidents in history. It is one of only two nuclear accidents that recorded a maximum severity of seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

The incident occurred on April 26, 1986, at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat during a safety test on the steam turbine of an RBMK-type nuclear reactor.


The disaster resulted in mass casualties, had widespread effect on the environment, and caused more than $200 billion in economic damage.

Twitter express concern over Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant fire

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant fire sparked concern online (Image via Getty Images/Dmytro Smolyenko)
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant fire sparked concern online (Image via Getty Images/Dmytro Smolyenko)

In the middle of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, a fire broke out in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station and left Ukrainian officials deeply concerned.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky took to social media to condemn the “terror attack” and asked the attacking forces to stop before turning the situation into a “nuclear disaster.”

According to CNN, officials confirmed that the fire was later extinguished and that the nuclear plant did not sustain any major damage. However, several people took to Twitter to express their concern over the situation:

Thousands of residents in Energodar came to the defense of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe - Zaporizhska NPP.This photo is the best illustration of the situation in #Ukraine. 🇺🇦We, Ukrainians, are invincible! We continue to fight for freedom! #StandWithUkraine
❗️❗️❗️ President Biden@POTUS⚡️⚡️⚡️The Russians are shelling the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant in Energodar, Ukraine.🔥There are reports of a fire at the NPP.Europe and Russia will perish from the explosion of the station. HELP US to STOP IT NOW, PLEASE!🙏🙏🙏
Russian troops' attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar can lead to a catastrophe of another level. It will affect not just the people of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia but the whole of Europe. There must be strong international support of 🇺🇦 to defend the country.
I am shocked by the insane, irresponsible, and dangerous attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Radiation leakage could pose danger to all of Europe. The Russian aggression must stop now.
Ukraine nuclear power plant spokesman ended interview with Anderson Cooper with “Help us, please.” God help them all. God help us all.
Shelling a nuclear power plant is a crime against humanity.All of the 30 NATO allies are obligated to defend the planet, and should do so immediately.

Meanwhile, other social media users also remembered the disastrous Chernobyl nuclear incident in light of the latest scare:

Just right now Russian soldiers in Zaporizhska NUCLEAR ElectroStation shelling !!!!!!! It’s going to be second #chernobyl !!!!! Do you want to see it not only on #Netflix ?????? This about all the #Europe , nobody will stay aside!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @EmmanuelMacron @Europarl_EN
Appreciate that nuclear experts and active watchers are speaking out and echoing that the nuclear reactors at Zaporizhzhia are NOT likely to explode in the way Chernobyl did - it will be bad, but a different bad.
If this war in Ukraine is not STOPPED NOW the world will face another Chernobyl/Fukushima combined. Ukraine has 4 nuclear power plants and Russian army is shooting rockets and bombing right next to it. Don’t look away, STOP 🛑 Russian invasion NOW!!!
Watching the Russians taking over the nuclear plant in energodar. The tanks fired at the building on the right. Fire trucks tried to get through but the Russians stopped them. If this plant goes up it will be worse than Chernobyl !! #Zaporizhzhia
The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is now on fire in Ukraine from Russian shelling and Ukrainian fire fighters cannot battle the blaze due to continuous shelling.If it were to explode it would be 10x more powerful than Chernobyl.🤦🏻‍♂️#KidVicious🙏🏼

As reactions continue to pour in online, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mentioned that no change in the reported radiation levels has been noticed around the area and that the fire did not affect any "essential" equipment.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station located in Enerhodar, Ukraine, is considered to be the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of the 10 largest plants in the world.

Edited by Siddharth Satish
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