Andriy Tuz was on the Ukrainian nuclear energy plant when it got here underneath Russian management in March. Now in Switzerland, Tuz talks about work and life on the advanced underneath Russian occupation.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Worldwide inspectors haven’t been in a position to safe a nuclear energy plant occupied by Russian troops. It’s nonetheless in a battle zone.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
We have seen photos of this plant because the begin of the conflict in Ukraine. Russian troopers, chances are you’ll recall, fought their approach in. They’re now defending that space as Ukrainian troops push again. Throughout all of that point, the plant has been working. Civilians go to work there on daily basis.
MARTIN: NPR’s Ashley Westerman talked to a former worker of the nuclear energy plant who labored there for months after Russians took it over, and he or she joins us now. Ashley, introduce us to this particular person.
ASHLEY WESTERMAN, BYLINE: Yeah. So I spoke with 32-year-old Andriy Tuz. He is a 10-year veteran on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant and has accomplished numerous jobs all through the years. However final yr, he bought a suggestion to affix the PR group as deputy, and he stated sure. After which he really turned head of PR on February 24. And he says the whole lot modified on March 3, when Russian tanks began rolling via the plant’s checkpoints.
MARTIN: And he was there, proper?
WESTERMAN: Sure. Or reasonably, he was residence in Enerhordar, which is the village closest to the plant. The village was attacked on March 3 after which the plant that evening.
ANDRIY TUV: (By interpreter) There was taking pictures. Not solely the tanks have been taking pictures, I additionally noticed some incoming missiles above the town. Heard explosions – they sounded identical to the crackle of fireworks.
WESTERMAN: And there have been dozens of army automobiles about. And Tuv says lots of the plant’s buildings have been hit by gunfire that evening. And whereas it was scary, he and others who labored there really figured they have been within the most secure place as a result of they could not think about both facet attacking the world.
MARTIN: Wow. I can not think about the stress of that. I imply, what did he let you know about working on the plant?
WESTERMAN: Tuv says that within the first days, even the primary months, the Russians didn’t intrude of their work. They weren’t allowed of their office or to method the employees. However then issues modified.
TUV: (By interpreter) Russian troopers began making the rounds and have been forcing their solution to the workplaces of the Ukrainian employees.
WESTERMAN: He says it is not like they have been interfering within the day-to-day operations, Rachel. However simply having these troopers round had an enormous psychological influence on the employees and their households. It is only a huge emotional upheaval. And he says the plant went from some 11,500 personnel earlier than the conflict all the way down to 1,200, to 1,800 now, which has put much more stress on those that have determined to remain.
MARTIN: Yeah, I think about. Has any of this affected the precise operation of the plant?
WESTERMAN: So the plant, he says, has been working. The water stayed on, however there is no such thing as a web and really, little or no telephone service. However what’s most problematic is that the Russians have additionally parked and moved numerous army gear and munitions in or close to the advanced.
TUV: (By interpreter) Tanks and army automobiles have been additionally always transferring. Generally they have been subsequent to the facility models. The employees did not know what to do. They’d their rounds to make. They wanted to verify the gear, however there was a tank proper in entrance of it.
WESTERMAN: Tuv’s went to work on daily basis for 4 months, however issues simply bought progressively worse and worse as time went on.
MARTIN: And he has since escaped Ukraine. Does he nonetheless hold in touch with individuals he knew who’re working on the plant?
WESTERMAN: Sure, and he is really now in Switzerland. He says he nonetheless retains in contact along with his fellow employees on the plant.
TUV: (By interpreter) They’re made to remain at their office additional time throughout shelling. They do not have regular work schedule, and far fewer individuals are accessible now. They do not have backup in case somebody will get unwell. There’s sufficient employees, nevertheless it’s far more troublesome for them to carry out their duties.
WESTERMAN: He says individuals are scared, and so they need to go away. However he calls them heroes for guaranteeing the protection of the plant underneath such stress. And Tuv says the one proper factor to maintain the plant secure and the hundreds nonetheless working inside is to demilitarize the plant altogether.
MARTIN: NPR’s Ashley Westerman reporting from Lviv. Thanks a lot, Ashley.
Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional info.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content will not be in its ultimate type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might range. The authoritative file of NPR’s programming is the audio file.