Kyiv won’t shut down the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with ABC News on Sep. 5.
ABC News reported that “Zelenskyy said he won’t consider a controlled shutdown of the facility to avoid a potential radioactive material leak,”
According to Zelenskyy, ZNPP is responsible for powering two Ukrainian regions, as the winter season approaches.
“I know the Russians would prefer the reactors to be connected to their power grid instead of ours; we reject this,” the president said.
He reiterated the need to demilitarize the nuclear facility and ensure the employees are not working at gunpoint.
“They (invading Russian forces) captured our six-reactor nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe, you see,” Zelenskyy added.
“It’s six more (potential) Chornobyls… In effect, this is a (type of) nuclear weapon, and they are wielding it.”
A delegation of 14 IAEA experts arrived at Russia-occupied ZNPP on Sep. 1. After spending several hours at the facility, part of the delegation departed. Five agency experts remain at the power plant, setting up monitoring equipment. IAEA head Rafael Grossi later said the agency will establish a permanent presence at ZNPP.
Ukraine’s nuclear operator Enerhoatom said that Russian troops are doing everything they can to prevent IAEA from properly assessing how ZNPP fares under Russian military occupation. In particular, the delegation was barred from the plant’s crisis management center, packed with Russian soldiers.
Zaporizhzhia NPP 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 occupying troops.
The Kremlin uses the facility as cover for its military forces, with Ukraine refusing to return fire, due to the risk of causing a nuclear calamity.