Zaporizhzhya NPP satellite: how the city of Enerhodar lives today
The city of Enerhodar, home to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is currently under occupation. Find out more about the city and its life in today's realities
The satellite city of Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant can surprise Ukrainians with unusual facts about its construction. Unfortunately, Energodar is currently under Russian occupation. Nonetheless, the city residents remain loyal to Ukraine and are tirelessly working to prevent nuclear blackmail from ending in another catastrophe.
Before the invasion, Energodar was home to more than 53,000 Ukrainians, and now about half remain. Due to the danger and harsh conditions of the occupation, the Ukrainian authorities immediately began to urge citizens to relocate to safer regions. Among those who chose to stay, approximately 6,500 employees of the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Official data indicates that half of them refrained from making any agreements or contracts with the aggressor.
We acknowledge the residents of Energodar, who are surviving under the russian occupation, and want to tell the story of the city.
Energodar wasn’t firstly a city
The construction of Energodar started in the 1970s alongside the Zaporizhzhya thermal power plant. Thus, the city is one of the youngest in Ukraine.
The city's establishment took place on a territory known as Ivanivski kuchugury. Due to the natural feature, agriculture in the region was impossible. Consequently, the authorities decided to create an urban-type settlement. For two years, it existed without a specific name until it was officially named Energodar in 1972.
The future city of energy workers was actively developed as a school and a kindergarten appeared. A post office and a shopping center follow. By 1974, medical institutions were introduced, along with cultural and entertainment facilities, such as a cinema, a sports complex, and an exhibition hall. Within a few years of its inception, the settlement had successfully established all the critical and social infrastructure necessary for its residents.
Energodar gained city status in 1992 when its population reached 50,000, enabling the settlement to transition into a full-fledged city.
The nuclear power station appeared later than the city itself. The construction of the thermal power plant was completed in 1978, while the construction of the NPP began in 1980. Notably, the establishment of the power station also facilitated the construction of two factories: one specializing in large-panel house construction and another dedicated to special construction structures.
Interesting fact: Zaporizhzhya NPP is currently the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
The cultural aspects of the city
Cities that were built on purpose usually don’t attract tourists. The layout and architecture of such places are typical, and often cities are similar to each other.
According to architect Yevgenia Gubkina, satellite cities built around nuclear power plants typically lack private sectors or garden plots, consisting mainly of high-rise buildings. These cities serve as a prime example of urbanism in architecture.
However, Energodar is unique. Due to the Kakhovsky Reservoir, the city had a waterfront to please residents.
By the way, Energodar residents could have fun not only with walks. During the times of the USSR, there operated a club, which was eventually turned into a cinema. There people could not only watch movies but also play slot machines. After Ukraine gained independence, the cinema stopped working, instead a children's boxing school opened on the premises.
In 1979 the Palace of Culture "Suchasnyk" was opened, and to these days, it’s a hub of creative performances, concerts, and plays. Presently, the palace also houses the museum of Zaporizhzhya heat power station. Let's add that the square near "Suchasnyk" served as the place where the residents held rallies at the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
As you can see, the city is not just a cluster of apartment buildings but a cultural center. We believe that after the end of the war, all cultural institutions will continue to work and serve the community.
Energodar: Days in occupation
Energodar, together with the Zaporizhzhya NPP, was occupied by the russians in the early days of the war. At first, city residents staged open protests, but those with a proactive civic position began to be kidnapped. For example, the mayor of the city was illegally detained for more than 300 days.
In February-March 2022, residents of Energodar coordinated their efforts and prepared for the arrival of the occupiers. According to the testimony of locals, everyone worked as a single mechanism, as everyone contributed in their own way, ranging from cooking to taking shifts at checkpoints.
Fortunately, the city did not experience any food shortages. Initially, farmers sold their grown products, then hagglers brought goods from Crimea or Melitopol. The situation with medicines was more complicated since no pharmacies worked in the city. Therefore, people got the necessary drugs through volunteers or acquaintances.
Over time, the pressure of the occupation prevailed and a large part of the population left the city. Most of those who remained worked at the nuclear power plant, so their crucial work responsibilities prevented them from leaving Energodar.
All the time, the locals live on a powder keg, as the risk of blowing up the nuclear power plant looms over them. The fact that the russians keep military equipment at the nuclear plant was recently confirmed by IAEA experts. Currently, the situation has escalated, with reports of intelligence and President Zelenskyi indicating that the russians are considering the scenario of a nuclear terrorist attack. Let's hope that a catastrophe will not occur, but we advise you to learn more about nuclear blackmail and its consequences for Ukraine.
Read here to find out whether it is advisable to take potassium iodide in the event of an accident at Zaporizhzhia NPP.
Every Ukrainian envisions the future with restrained optimism while believing that all occupied cities will be liberated. Therefore, we don’t lose hope that soon the Ukrainian flag will fly over Energodar.
Just a reminder! In our last article, we talked about Zaporizhzhia, an extraordinary city that attracts with its beauty. Read more about the life of the stalwart Cossack city here.
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