IAEA chief calls for “immediate action” to set up security zone around Zaporizhia NPP

IAEA chief calls for “immediate action” to set up security zone around Zaporizhia NPP

The latest attacks on the site of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on September 26-27 demonstrate the urgent need to create a nuclear and physical security zone around the plant.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi spoke of this in a statement on the situation in Ukraine, adding that he is ready to continue consultations on this matter with Ukraine and Russia, an Ukrinform reports citing the agency website.

‘The site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was hit by new shelling and explosions this week, breaking windows in one of its turbine halls and once again underlining the urgent need to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant, the IAEA chief said Tuesday, September 27.

Read also: President: 500 Russian fighters, military equipment currently stationed at ZNPP

IAEA experts present at the ZNPP reported to Agency headquarters that shelling took place at around 17:00 local time yesterday near the facility’s electrical switchyard, a few hundred meters from the plant’s training center, but there were no reports of damage. Other explosions were heard further away.

Today at 8:00, two explosions occurred near a channel that carries water from a reservoir to the plant for its cooling system, an essential element for nuclear safety. There was no damage to plant structures and equipment, but windows in the turbine hall of reactor unit 2 were broken, the IAEA experts said.

According to senior ZNPP operating staff, the cause of the blasts is currently unclear and is being investigated, the agency experts added.

“This week’s shelling and explosions at the ZNPP site come after a few days without any such incidents. They show that the overall situation remains precarious and that immediate action is needed to reduce the risk of a major accident at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, now located in the middle of a war zone,” Director General Grossi said.

Last week in New York, the IAEA chief launched talks with Russia and Ukraine aimed at agreeing and implementing such a zone, and he told the IAEA General Conference yesterday that he was ready to continue consultations in both countries.

Read also: Shelling of Zaporizhzhia: Three people wounded, power substation cut off

As reported earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine emphasized the risk of a nuclear explosion at the ZNPP  due to Russia's actions, recalling that only one power unit blew up at the Chornobyl NPP in 1986, while the ZNPP has six units in total.

As reported, the Zaporizhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, has been held by the Russian military since March 4 when they captured the facility. The invaders have deployed military equipment and planted ammunition on the plant’s premises. The Russians have also been shelling the surrounding area and the plant site itself, destroying power lines, causing shutdowns of power units.

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