“Once again, we were fortunate that a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen. Next time, we may not be so lucky. We must do everything in our power to make sure there is no next time,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in his statement on November 20.
He reiterated his call for urgent measures to protect the ZNPP and prevent a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in Ukraine.
The IAEA Director General said he had been in active consultations with world leaders on the latest shelling at the ZNPP and he was insisting that agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP must happen now.
“Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the shelling came dangerously close to them. We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives,” Grossi stressed.
The IAEA team of experts plan to assess the shelling impact on the site on Monday.
As noted, the latest shelling of the ZNPP began shortly before 18:00 local time Saturday and, after a lull, resumed at 09:15 Sunday with more than a dozen blasts within 40 minutes.
According to the IAEA experts, site management reported damage in several places, including a radioactive waste and storage building, cooling pond sprinkler systems, an electrical cable to one of the reactors, condensate storage tanks, and to a bridge between another reactor and its auxiliary buildings.
There were no casualties.
As reported, the Russian military captured the Zaporizhzhia NPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, on March 4.
Since then, the invaders have placed military equipment and ammunition on the plant’s territory, shelling the plant, its surrounding area, destroying power lines, causing power units to shut down, and blaming the Armed Forces of Ukraine for that.
Since September, several IAEA experts have been stationed at the ZNPP.
On November 5, back-up power to the Zaporizhzhia NPP was restored two days after the plant had lost all access to external electricity due to shelling by Russian troops. Outages pose a serious risk of a nuclear incident.