Ukraine: Shelling in nearby city putting Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant at risk

9 September 2022Peace and Security

Shelling in the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar is putting the embattled Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) at risk, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned in a statement on Friday.

The shelling has destroyed the power infrastructure feeding the city, where staff operating the plant live, causing a complete blackout that also threatens the nuclear facility.

Shelling has caused a complete blackout in #Enerhodar and compromised the safe operation of the nearby #Zaporizhzhya NPP. This must stop & a Nuclear Safety & Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) agreed immediately. An NPP can never be a pawn of war. https://t.co/jMMf7jk12S pic.twitter.com/7djejJe80G

— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) September 9, 2022

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA Director General, said given the increased and continued shelling, there is little likelihood of re-establishing reliable offsite power to the plant.

‘An unsustainable situation’

As a result, Ukraine is considering shutting down the plant’s only remaining operating reactor. The entire plant would then be fully reliant on emergency diesel generators for ensuring vital nuclear safety and security functions.

“This is an unsustainable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious,” said Mr. Grossi.

“Enerhodar has gone dark. The power plant has no offsite power. And we have seen that once infrastructure is repaired, it is damaged once again. This is completely unacceptable. It cannot stand.”

Establish safety zone

The IAEA chief said he learned about the situation from his experts deployed at the plant, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war.

He added that the increasingly dire circumstances in Enerhodar also mean “there is the significant risk of an impact on the availability of essential staff on site to continue to safely and securely operate ZNPP.”

Mr. Grossi called for an immediate end to all shelling in the entire area.

“This dramatic development demonstrates the absolute imperative to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone now. This is the only way to ensure that we do not face a nuclear accident,” he said.

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