Ukraine: ‘Physical integrity’ of Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant ‘has been violated several times’

2 September 2022Peace and Security

Further damage to the embattled Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine “cannot” be allowed to happen, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was speaking on Thursday after he and IAEA experts visited Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which has seen repeated shelling in recent weeks, sparking fears of a catastrophe.

I am finishing my first visit to #Ukraine’s #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.@IAEAorg is here to stay and will maintain a continued presence at #ZNPP. pic.twitter.com/k4zO3IMe2I

— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) September 1, 2022

“It's obvious that the plant, and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated, several times. [Whether] by chance [or deliberately], we don't have the elements to assess that. But this is a reality that we have to recognize, and this is something that cannot continue to happen,” he told journalists.

“Wherever you stay, wherever you stand, whatever you think about this war, this is something that cannot happen, and this is why we're trying to put in place certain mechanisms and the presence of our people there, to try to be in a better place.”

The Zaporizhzhia plant houses six of the 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine.

It has been occupied by Russian forces since the early weeks of the war in Ukraine, now in its seventh month.

Both sides have accused the other of shelling the plant.

Maintaining a presence

An IAEA expert mission finally arrived there on Thursday, following months of diplomatic negotiations.

In a video posted on his official Twitter account that day, Mr. Grossi reported that the experts had completed an initial tour of the plant, though there is still more to do.

“My team is staying on,” he said, adding “most importantly, we are establishing a continued presence from the IAEA here.”

IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi (second left) and the IAEA expert mission team arrive at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
© IAEAIAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi (second left) and the IAEA expert mission team arrive at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

The 14-member mission deployed from Vienna on Monday in efforts towards ensuring nuclear safety and security at the plant, undertaking vital safeguard activities, and assessing the working conditions of the Ukrainian staff there.

Renewed shelling last week hit the area of the plant’s two so-called special buildings, located about 100 metres from the reactor buildings, as well as an overpass area.

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