REPORTING. War in Ukraine: “The risk of a repeat of Chernobyl is possible”, at the heart of the evacuations around the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant

At the counter reserved for evacuees in Zaporizhia station, Anna presents her passport and those of her three children. She left with them and a large part of her family for Lviv, 1,000 kilometers further west. For this mother, fleeing is obvious. “I’m afraid they’ll blow up the plant and there’ll be radiation. It can be on the Ukrainian side, on the Russian side, we don’t know who to believe.” Since July 5, Russians and Ukrainians have been accusing each other of wanting to sabotage the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant.

>> War in Ukraine: between kyiv and Moscow, a battle of accusations around the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant

For many, this forced departure was quick. Aliona left in a hurry with only three bags. “We took our papers and only a few things. Everything else is in our house. Everything in it is everything that makes our life, everything we had.” Every day, a hundred people board this 9:55 a.m. train for fear of the nuclear risk. It is also free for residents heading west.

“It is above all for our children that we leave”

Today, with these evacuations far from home, some are projecting themselves into a future far from the nuclear power plant. “We lived about ten kilometers from the plant, we could see the plantsays Aliona’s husband, Anatoli. Afterwards, we will go even further, perhaps abroad…”

Aliona continues: “It is above all for our children that we are leaving. The risk of a repetition of Chernobyl is possible. Not an explosion, but radioactive emissions in the atmosphere over a great distance.”

Every day, a hundred people ask to leave the city by train.  (Isabelle Labeyrie)

At the station ticket office, in the hall, Xsenia closes her laptop. She prepares to go home. This resident has volunteered to help the civilians evacuate, but she has no desire to leave. “We stay. We’re used to it. It doesn’t scare us. If it explodes, everyone will be affected.”

Anatoli, Aliona, Valeria and Viktor are about to leave the city of Zaporizhia.  Without luggage and without a specific drop-off point.  (GILLES GALLINARO)

Moscow still accuses Ukraine of wanting to attack the plant. Russia asks that the subject be closely examined at the NATO summit. The spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry also recalls that “If something happens, the vast majority of Alliance members will be in the impact zone.”

REPORTING. War in Ukraine: faced with the nuclear risk, the inhabitants around the Zaporijia power plant evacuate


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