Situated on the south bank of the Dnieper river at Enerhodar, south-west of the city of Zaporizhzhia itself, the plant occupies an extremely important strategic position both for Russian and Ukrainian forces. Russia use it as a so called “sheltered” artillery park, using the facilities to fire on Ukrainian positions in the belief that Ukraine would not fire back and risk a nuclear accident.
The reactors are designed to withstand substantial impact, protected with steel and reinforced concrete as well as fire protection systems, although a strike from a substantial missile might be more problematic. The buildings housing the spent fuel, however, are not built with a similar level of protection, meaning that a release of spent fuel material is probably a greater risk from fighting than a catastrophic breach of a reactor, although more limited.
The reality is that the situation at the plant in terms of safety operations is probably the most serious issue, as a deteriorating safety regime caused by the conflict has been exacerbated by a risk of a strike. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, described the ongoing crisis of safety oversight as a dire threat to public health and the environment in Ukraine, and far beyond its borders, describing the situation as “completely out of control.”
Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrom by James Bridges, 1979
theguardian.com, Peter Beaumont, 08.08.2022