It's too early to panic about the fire at Ukraine's largest nuclear plant: experts
A nuclear power plant

On Thursday, Russian forces began shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in northern Ukraine — the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, triggering fires.

This led some to speculate that the fire could lead to a meltdown ten times more powerful than the 1986 incident at Chernobyl, itself the worst nuclear disaster in history.

But don't panic, say several nuclear experts: it is too early to know exactly what damage has been done, and — more important — this plant is designed with a series of safeguards that make an explosion of the sort that scattered radioactive debris at Chernobyl extremely unlikely.

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Jon B. Wolfsthal, a former adviser on the National Security Council, explained some of the differences with the reactors currently under threat.


Nuclear energy expert Mark Nelson said the idea the plant could trigger an explosion ten times worse than Chernobyl "absolute nonsense" — and that while there was a risk of disrupting the cooling process, the reactor itself hasn't been hit.



Nuclear expert James Acton noted, though, that none of this means everything is safe — and a different type of meltdown is still possible.


For the time being, however, a spokesman for the plant said that there is not currently a risk of radiation release into the surrounding environment.