IAEA forms team for mission to Zaporizhzhya NPP

29 August, 04:09 PM
Delegation includes head of IAEA and 13 experts from mostly neutral countries (Photo:energoatom.com.ua)

Delegation includes head of IAEA and 13 experts from mostly neutral countries (Photo:energoatom.com.ua)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has formed a team for a mission to visit the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) this week, U.S. newspaper the New York Time reported on Aug. 27.

The NYT said the delegation includes the head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, and 13 more experts from mostly neutral countries. Representatives from the United States, the UK or other countries that provide Ukraine with strong military support will not be on this mission.

ZNPP was disconnected from the power grid for the first time in its history on Aug. 25 due to the actions of Russian invasion forces. However, the next day one of the plant’s six reactors was reconnected to the grid.

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During an address on Aug. 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the IAEA and other international organizations were not acting fast enough, and that every minute the Russian invaders stay at the ZNPP there is a risk of a radiation catastrophe.

The ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and has been occupied by Russian forces since March 4. Several ZNPP facilities have been damaged by Russian shelling, and the station’s employees are being held captive by the occupying troops.

The Kremlin uses the facility as cover for its forces, as Ukraine is unable to return fire due to the risk of causing a nuclear disaster.

Russian troops have set up firing positions at the ZNPP and are now shelling Ukrainian cities across the Dnipro River from there. Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom reported that invading Russian forces placed at least 14 units of heavy military vehicles with ammunition, weapons and explosives in the turbine hall of reactor No. 1 of the ZNPP. On Aug. 22, the invaders brought additional armored personnel carriers and special trucks to the repair area of the station. In total, more than 40 units of Russian military vehicles are deployed on the territory of the station.

Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom warned on Aug. 19 that Russia is planning to disconnect the facility from Ukraine’s power grid, which would put the reactor cooling system offline.

The head of the Zaporizhzhya regional military administration, Oleksandr Starukh, on Aug. 16 called on the residents of the nearby town of Enerhodar to evacuate due to the shelling of the ZNPP. He said that in the event of an accident, about 400,000 people would have to be evacuated from two neighboring oblasts.

Kyiv has called on the IAEA and the UN to mount a monitoring mission to stabilize the situation at the ZNPP.

President Zelenskyy discussed the proposed UN and IAEA mission with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a meeting in Lviv on Aug. 18.

The UN says it is ready to support any IAEA mission from Kyiv to the ZNPP. According to Bloomberg, the IAEA wants to visit the plant before Sept. 5.

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