Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant: Russian vehicles seen in the turbine hall

Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant: Russian vehicles seen in the turbine hall

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the video, which was shared on social media on Thursday. It is unclear when the video was taken.

The footage shows one of the six turbine rooms on the west side of the nuclear power plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar. Each turbine hall is connected and built into a large building that houses a nuclear reactor.

The vehicles, which appear to be standard Russian military trucks, are parked at the far western edge of the building on the ground floor, a little over 130 meters from the reactor.

At least five vehicles — one of which is clearly marked with the “Z” war symbol — can be seen in the video, with at least two tent-like structures nearby. In addition to the vehicles, various pallets are available.

It is not clear from the video whether the pallets and tent-like structures belong to the Russian military or are linked to power plant operations.

New video shows Russian military vehicles parked in a turbine hall connected to a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

Moscow has previously said that the only military equipment at the facility is related to guard duties. On Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that satellite images “show that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not stationed on the territory of this station.”

CNN reached out to Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment on what’s in and around the military vehicles in the turbine room, but didn’t get an immediate response.

Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of threatening nuclear terrorism, particularly in the vicinity of the power plant.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian forces of storing heavy weapons at the complex and using them as cover for attacks, knowing Ukraine cannot return fire without risking hitting one of the plant’s reactors. Moscow, meanwhile, has claimed that Ukrainian troops are targeting the site.

On Monday, Ukraine’s State Nuclear Power Plant Chairman Petro Kotin said Russia stocks 14 “units of heavy military equipment” in the “first power plant” and “six vehicles” in the “second engine room.”

Europe's largest nuclear power plant is in danger.  But experts say a Chernobyl-sized disaster is unlikely

Russian military vehicles have not been at the plant since July 24, according to satellite images of the complex provided to CNN by Planet Labs.

It is unclear if the Russian military trucks are stored in the turbine room or if they are using it as cover after a July 19 Ukrainian military strike. The attack targeted Russian military personnel in three tents just under 1,000 feet (more than 300 meters) from one of the nuclear reactors.

Fear of nuclear catastrophe

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been under Russian control since March.

Attacks on the complex, which have escalated as flare-fighting in southern Ukraine has raised concerns over the specter of a nuclear catastrophe and prompted the United Nations nuclear watchdog and world leaders to call for a mission to visit the site and may assess damage.

But nuclear experts are keen to defuse some of the more alarming warnings, stating that the main threat is closest to the facility itself and doesn’t justify pan-European warnings. Experts are particularly wary of comparisons to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — the worst nuclear accident on record — which is incredibly unlikely to happen again, they said.

According to Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company, shelling at the plant in recent weeks has damaged a dry storage facility – where drums of spent nuclear fuel are kept – as well as radiation surveillance detectors.

On August 5, multiple explosions near the electrical panel caused a power outage and one reactor was unplugged, according to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi told the UN Security Council last week the situation had deteriorated “to a point where it is very alarming”.