According to the Guardian, Zelenskiy said (on the fighting at Zaporizhia nuclear plant):

“If there will be an explosion, it will be the end to all of us: the end of Europe, the evacuation of Europe,”

Source: The Guardian

While such a thing would certainly be extremely bad, and not just for Europe - would this really mean the "evacuation" of Europe, or how much exaggeration is there in that claim ?

  • 4
    As of now all we have is a single source who is trying to gain support for his country and nothing else to back up that it would be that devastating. Even if you want to evaluate the claim I would argue it is impossible to do as the scale of the disaster would depend on what exactly happens.
    – Joe W
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:16
  • @JoeW: Arguing it is a single source, without references is begging the question. Is it only a single source? Is there existing threat modelling of these scenarios and similar?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 4, 2022 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly not quite that. According to experts cited by the BBC:

Experts say that although the attack was dangerous, there are important differences between the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia plants.

The Zaporizhzhia site is far more secure, according to Dr Mark Wenman of Imperial College London. [...]

The Zaporizhzhia plant also does not contain any graphite in its reactor.

At Chernobyl graphite caused a significant fire and was the source of the radiation plume that travelled across Europe. [...]

Prof Claire Corkhill, a nuclear materials expert at University of Sheffield, says the worst-case scenario would be a loss of cooling similar to that at Japan's Fukushima plant following the 2011 tsunami.

In that case a loss of power led to a loss of cooling, which caused a meltdown in three of its nuclear reactors.

Which would still render a significant area uninhabitable, if Fukushima is the yardstick; 37,000 people still cannot return to their habitations due to radiation (down from 165,000 right after the accident)--granted Japan is more densely populated.

Also, about one million Ukrainians have already fled the country due to the war, so one could (cynically) argue that one or two hundred thousands more would not make much difference in this context.

  • VVER-1000 reactors used in the power plant (together with the building design) are in theory capable of completely containing an eventual meltdown. Provided, of course, no active sabotage.
    – fraxinus
    Mar 8, 2022 at 9:11
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    @fraxinus Even assuming no active sabotage, I'm pretty sure careless use of artillery or explosives around the building could do a number on reactor containment.
    – prosfilaes
    Mar 8, 2022 at 16:40

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