UN Nuclear Watchdog Due to Visit Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant
A team from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is due to visit the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Southern Ukraine in the coming days amid fears of the threat of a nuclear incident at the plant.
The Zaporizhzhya Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, was taken over by Russian troops in March and is being run by Ukrainian staff with reports of frequent shelling in the area causing concerns of a potential nuclear disaster.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made repeated warnings that a ‘catastrophe’ at the plant would have devastating consequences for countries in the EU and beyond.
Speaking to media earlier this month, President Zelensky said, ‘Under the cover of the plant, the occupiers are shelling nearby cities and communities.’
‘Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP can affect the countries of the European Union, Turkey, Georgia and countries from more distant regions. Everything depends solely on the direction and speed of the wind.’
A statement from the IAEA says that Ukraine has informed the Agency of renewed shelling in recent days at the site, but it said all safety systems remained operational and there had been no increase in radiation levels.
The ZNPP has continued access to off-site electricity after the plant temporarily lost connection to its last remaining operational external power line on Thursday last. In addition, both reactor units that were disconnected from the electricity grid during Thursday’s power cuts are operating again after being re-connected on Friday. The other four units at ZNPP were disconnected before Thursday’s events and remained in shutdown.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the IAEA said, ‘There had been shelling in the area of the ZNPP on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Ukraine did not yet have complete information on the nature of the damage.
Citing information from Ukraine, Director General Grossi said, ‘All measurements of radioactivity at the ZNPP site were within normal range, and there was no indication of any hydrogen leakage.’
Director General Grossi said he was continuing his consultations with all parties with the aim to send an IAEA expert mission to the plant in the next few days to help ensure nuclear safety and security there. The planned mission would assess the physical damage to the ZNPP’s facilities, determine whether the main and back-up safety and security systems were functional and evaluate the staff’s working conditions, in addition to performing urgent safeguard activities on the site.