Russia violating nuclear safety principles in Ukraine, US says

No signs have been detected yet of any radiological release, but 'reckless actions' may lead to a disaster, according to the US Energy Secretary.

 Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine March 4, 2022, in this screengrab from a video obtained from social media (photo credit: ZAPORIZHZHYA NPP VIA YOUTUBE/VIA REUTERS)
Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine March 4, 2022, in this screengrab from a video obtained from social media
(photo credit: ZAPORIZHZHYA NPP VIA YOUTUBE/VIA REUTERS)

The United States on Friday accused Russia of violating nuclear safety principles in Ukraine and demanded its invading forces stop firing on nuclear power plants, but added that there were no signs detected yet of any radiological release.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a Twitter post that radiation monitors in much of Ukraine were still functioning although the United States was concerned by lack of data from safeguards monitors at Chernobyl or Zaporizhzhia, which is Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Both sites are under Russian forces' control but are being operated by Ukrainian staff in conditions that the International Atomic Energy Agency says endanger the safety of the facilities.

"We remain concerned about Russia’s reckless actions and violations of nuclear safety principles," Granholm said.

"We are monitoring reports of damage to a research facility in Kharkiv. Near-term safety risk is low, but the continued Russian firing on nuclear facilities must cease," she said.

 A view shows a damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine in this handout picture released March 4, 2022. (credit: Press service of National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom/Handout via REUTERS) A view shows a damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine in this handout picture released March 4, 2022. (credit: Press service of National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom/Handout via REUTERS)

After fighting and apparent shelling around the Zaporizhzhia plant a week ago, the Russian military accused Ukrainian forces of a "provocation."

Granholm said the US could not confirm reports that power has been restored to Chernobyl. Russia's energy ministry said on Thursday that Belarusian specialists had restored electricity supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

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

The head of a nuclear research facility in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv said the grounds of the institute had been struck by Russian shells during recent fighting, but the core housing nuclear fuel remains intact.