The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), the largest of its kind in Europe, may be in the crosshairs of the Russo-Ukrainian war yet again, as each side of the conflict is accusing the other of fomenting an imminent sabotage operation against it. These conditions resemble the situation that preceded the recent destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which could be perceived as a warning shot threatening the ZNPP.
The Ukrainian government claims that objects resembling explosives have recently been placed on reactor buildings while Russian officials say their intel suggests precision missile strikes on the plant could commence as soon as tonight. Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arriving at the plant several months ago, shelling of its campus has not ceased. Any military escalation involving the ZNPP could spur bearish price action for uranium futures and miners, as well as a heavy-handed response from western governments.
Related ETFs: Sprott Uranium Miners ETF (URNM), Global X Uranium ETF (URA)
The war in Ukraine has once again foisted the world’s attention toward the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Europe’s largest nuclear powerplant, which sits on the left bank of the Dnieper River and has remained firmly under Russian control since March 2022. MRP has published multiple extensive reports on conditions at the ZNPP going back to August of last year, as Russian and Ukrainian positions are separated by just 5km to 14km of river, well-within striking range of each side’s artillery, making them common targets. Several media reports have suggested that Russia stores military equipment within the plant and may even be firing artillery from the campus. Ukrainian counterbattery fire has struck the plant many times and previously damaged some of the facility’s critical infrastructure.
More specifically, previous reporting shows that explosives have damaged a radioactive waste storage building at the ZNPP. Shelling has also hit a cooling pond, pipelines that are responsible for transporting water for cooling, a cable to one reactor, and a bridge to another. External power to the plant has been totally cut seven times and only one of the plant’s original four 750 kilovolt (kV) power lines is currently operational. Though the ZNPP has been the target of at least one failed raid by Ukrainian special forces, Kiev denies responsibility for damage to the ZNPP and has repeatedly accused the Russian government of preparing a sabotage operation at the plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which serves as the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has been on the ground at the ZNPP for several months to help inspect and maintain facilities as best as they can. In response to questions from France 24 regarding potential preparations for an attack on the plant by the Russian military, including the stationing of vehicles charged with explosives and the mining of the cooling pond, Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, stated that he did not want to argue with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about this issue, but “I can only say that I was there and did not see it”.
Despite Grossi’s account of the situation, Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government have stepped up accusations within the past 24 hours, stating that foreign objects “resembling explosive devices” have now been placed on the outer roof of the third and fourth reactor buildings. Per Politico, Ukrainian military intelligence suggests that Russian troops, as well as…
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