A series of explosions rocked the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant area last night and again this morning.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Sunday condemned these attacks, which affect the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) on Ukrainian territory, and demanded that the responsible for the explosions cease immediately.
The IAEA stresses the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there, said Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In what appeared to be a new shelling both near and at the exact location of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts in Zaporizhia told the Agency’s headquarters that more than a dozen were heard. of explosions in a short period of time this morning local time. The IAEA team was also able to see some of the explosions from their windows.
Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said damage had occurred to some buildings, systems and equipment at the Zaporizhia plant, but none so far critical to nuclear safety and security. There were no reports of casualties.
IAEA experts are in close contact with site management and will continue to assess and report on the situation.
Play with fire
“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely worrying. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this needs to be stopped immediately. As I have said many times before, you are playing with fire!” said General Manager Grossi.
Grossi renewed his urgent appeal to both warring parties to agree and implement a nuclear safety and protection zone around Zaporizhia as soon as possible. In recent months, he has engaged in intensive consultations with Ukraine and Russia on the establishment of such a zone, but so far without an agreement.
“I will not give up until this zone has become a reality. As the apparent ongoing bombardment demonstrates, it is needed more than ever,” he said.
Russia blames Ukraine
Fifteen shells were allegedly fired at the plant premises, according to the Russian news agency TASS, citing Renat Karchaa, adviser to the chief executive of Rosenergoatom.
“They not only shelled yesterday, but also today, they are shelling right now,” the official said, adding that any artillery strike at the site poses a threat to nuclear security.
Karchaa said the shells had been fired near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses fresh spent nuclear fuel, adding that no radioactive emissions had currently been detected, according to TASS.
Ukrainian authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the shelling report.
The Zaporizhia plant, which Russia seized shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, has since come under repeated bombing, with both Kyiv and Moscow accusing each other of attacks and risking a nuclear accident.
The facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, provided about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s invasion on February 24, and has been forced to run on backup generators several times.