Integrity of Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant repeatedly violated, says IAEA chief Grossi

3 September, 12:14 PM
The area of the Zaporizhzhya NPP is constantly being shelled by the Russian occupiers (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The area of the Zaporizhzhya NPP is constantly being shelled by the Russian occupiers (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The physical integrity of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has been repeatedly violated, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at a briefing on Sept. 2.

After leading a mission of 14 IAEA specialists to the plant, Grossi said he saw the effects of shelling there, including, “impact holes and marks on buildings.” He confirmed that the facility's structures have been violated several times, and made clear that this was unacceptable.

The IAEA chief also said military operations were intensifying in the region where the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP) is located, causing him significant concern.

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According to Grossi, there is a likelihood of more physical damage to the facility, adding that not counting the night of March 3-4, the shelling of the ZNPP, "began in August."

During the briefing, Grossi announced that two IAEA inspectors would be permanently present at the ZNPP, and said he hoped they would be a “stabilizing factor.” He said the agency's report on its findings during the visit will be presented on or around Sept. 5.

The initial IAEA delegation arrived at the ZNPP, located in the Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Oblast, on Sept. 1. A group of specialists led by Grossi then spent several hours at the facility. According to the IAEA, a handful of the team’s members will remain at the station.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking after the IAEA’s visit to ZNPP, said that Russia had engaged in significant deception in order to try and fool the IAEA delegation.

The ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and has been illegally occupied by Russian forces since March 4. The station's Ukrainian employees are currently being held captive by the occupying Russian invasion forces.

Russian troops are known to have set up firing positions at the ZNPP and have regularly shelled Ukrainian cities from them. Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom has reported that the Russian military placed more than a dozen pieces of military equipment, including ammunition, weapons, and explosives in the turbine hall of the first reactor of the Zaporizhzhya plant.

The occupiers brought additional armored personnel carriers and special trucks to the repair area of ​​the station on Aug. 22. In total, more than 40 units of Russian military equipment have been placed on the grounds of the facility.

Recently, Russian troops have attempted to utilize nuclear blackmail against Ukraine by repeatedly shelling the ZNPP themselves, Ukraine says.

Energoatom warned on Aug. 19 that Russia planned to disconnect the facility from Ukraine’s power grid, which would take the reactor cooling system offline and could lead to a potential nuclear catastrophe.

The warning nearly came to fruition as the ZNPP was disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid on Aug. 25 before being reconnected a day later. Three out of four connecting power lines at the ZNPP had previously been damaged by Russian troops stationed at the power plant.

Currently, the ZNPP continues to generate electricity for Ukraine.

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