| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Situation ‘serious’ at Russia-occupied nuclear plant In Ukraine: IAEA chief

Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited on Thursday, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, which is under Russian control. Grossi stated that it was not feasible to anticipate the signing of a document between Moscow and Kyiv guaranteeing the safety of the site while conflicts persisted in its vicinity.
Grossi, chief of United Nations nuclear watchdog, was on inspection of the site of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. It is the largest nuclear plant in Europe. Grossi’s visit to the nuclear plant has come in the aftermath of Kakhovka dam breach downstream on the Dnipro River.

The plant has a cooling pond which is used to cool six reactors from potentially disastrous overheating. The Kakhovka reservoir was normally used to refill the pond but this can’t be done now because its falling water level after the dam breach.

Situation ‘serious’
Grossi had to pass through a Russian checkpoint to reach the plant. The nuclear plant is located close to the military frontline. Russian news agencies quoted Grossi as saying that situation at the site was “serious” but there was sufficient cooling water available.

Grossi added that IAEA inspectors will remain at the site.

“We have a political agreement which was formulated at the (United Nations) Security Council. Reaching a written agreement would be unrealistic at this stage because, as we know, there are no peace or ceasefire negotiations between the parties,” TASS news agency quoted Grossi as saying.

Grossi said that the trip was “extremely difficult” but also “compact” and “important.”

Grossi’s visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant had to be delayed by a day because of security reasons. There was heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

Russian forces captured both the nuclear plant and the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent them into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Grossi has made repeated calls for an end to hostilities and battle in the vicinity of the nuclear plant so that a miscalculation does not lead to any catastrophic accident. The six reactors inside the nuclear plant are in shutdown.

Russia and Ukraine blame each for shelling the facility. This has repeatedly cut power lines. There are diesel generators at the plant, which also has alternative water sources.

Alexei Likhachev, head of Russia’s state nuclear energy firm Rosatom, was quoted by RIA news agency as saying that Grossi had observed during his visit the security measures taken at the plant to ensure its safety following the breach of the dam.

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