The shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant does not threaten its operation because the russian occupiers know where to aim to make it "hurt" but "not lethally", one of the plant's engineers in an interview with BBC News Ukraine.
"Rosatom representatives have been asking us for two months to give them tours of the ZNPP. They were very interested in how this or that is arranged. They said something about exchange of experience. Then they demanded maps of the ZNPP, even landscape maps. And then the shelling started. They know where to shoot to make it 'hurt', but 'not lethally'. They are like prison guards or FSB officers, they hit you in such a way that you don't get bruised, but you remember it forever," said the engineer.
According to the plant worker, the worst-case scenario at the ZNPP is the destruction of power lines linking the facility to the Ukrainian energy system.
"The consequences of such shelling are not very critical for Ukraine as a whole. But fatal for the ZNPP. A nuclear power plant cannot work for nothing. It has to supply electricity somewhere. If all the consumers suddenly disappear, the plant will 'choke', the reactors will shut down in an emergency, and the so-called 'blackout' will start," the expert said.
The pumps which cool nuclear fuel in the reactor or in the storage pool need electricity to work. If the occupiers destroy all the lines, cooling will become impossible and a nuclear disaster could occur, said the ZNPP engineer.
"We need at least one power unit to work for any power system. Firstly, this will give us a chance to launch the other units someday. Secondly, it is necessary to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. They (Russians - Ed.) know it. And what are they doing? They are breaking the high-voltage lines linking the ZNPP to the Ukrainian energy system. And at the same time, they tell us: 'If 'neo-Nazis from the Ukrainian armed forces break your last line, we are ready to provide you with help'," the plant worker added.
According to him, Russia's help is a plan to "connect" the ZNPP to the Russian energy system through the ZNPP-Melitopol-Dzhankoy line.
"If we suddenly 'go to zero', i.e. a 'blackout' happens, we will need any power from the 'outside' to power the pumps to cool the nuclear fuel. That is the russians deliberately put us in a 'blackout'' to help us later. Right now, they are very close. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow they will break the last line," the engineer said.
He stressed that "it would not be like Chornobyl" but "closer to what happened at Fukushima".
"There is no help from the world in this situation. Every year we have missions from the IAEA and other international nuclear organizations coming to us. But when this happens, they all stand aside. The maximum we hear are words of 'deep concern'," he summed up.
He noted that employees of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant carried out a number of upgrades in order to prevent a Fukushima scenario at the plant.
Ukraine is ready to receive a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but Russia makes it impossible for experts to access the Zaporizhzhya plant.