IAEA reports resumption of blasts outside Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya NPP
The Zaporizhia NPP was captured by the Russian invaders (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts stationed at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) since early January reported around 20 “detonations” during the afternoon on Feb. 27.
The experts said that the explosions apparently occurred in the vicinity of the plant, which is located on the frontline of an active combat area.
“This is a concerning trend that shows the urgency and importance of establishing a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Feb. 28.
Grossi said the plant’s 330 kilovolt (kV) back-up power line was disconnected early on Feb. 25 following the sound of military activity further away, then briefly restored, but lost again the same morning. The power line was re-connected in the afternoon on Feb. 26, he added.
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 captives of the invading troops.
Russian troops have set up firing positions at the territory of the ZNPP and are shelling Ukrainian cities from there. Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom reported that the Russian military placed at least 14 units of heavy military vehicles, loaded with ammunition, weapons and explosives in one of the turbine halls at ZNPP.
The IAEA confirmed the presence of heavy military vehicles at the plant when it visited the site at the end of August last year.
It has since established a permanent monitoring presence at the facility and called for a demilitarized safety zone to be established around the plant.
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