Experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) present at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) inform that powerful explosions have been occurring outside the facility in recent attacks, the UN watchdog agency said.
Military activities are taking place in the vicinity of the site located on the frontline of the ongoing conflict in the country, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Thursday.
Almost daily in recent days and weeks, the IAEA nuclear safety and security team at the plant has been reporting such events to headquarters in Vienna. Some blasts apparently take place some distance away from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), while others seem much closer to the facility itself. Yesterday, eight strong detonations were heard at around 10am local time, causing office windows at the plant to vibrate, and more were audible today.
Director General Grossi said these signs of combat activities near the ZNPP further underlined the vital importance of agreeing and implementing a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone around the site as soon as possible. A zone would help shield the ZNPP by making sure it is not targeted and also not used for attacks from the site, he said.
The Director General – who discussed the proposed zone with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv last week and will also continue his consultations with the Russian Federation – also stressed the urgent need for it in high-level meetings in Brussels earlier this week, including with European Union foreign ministers.
“I have been calling for the establishment of a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant for months. I am grateful for the strong support I have received from many world leaders, including in Europe, but more is needed. We cannot stop,” he told the European Parliament. He reiterated that the negotiations with Ukraine and Russia were complex as they touched upon sensitive military matters.
At the ZNPP, the six reactors remain shut down, with two continuing in hot shutdown mode to supply steam and heat to the plant and the nearby city of Enerhodar. The plant also continues to receive the off-site electricity it needs for essential nuclear safety and security functions from the last operating 750 kilovolt (kV) main external power line, with one 330 kV back-up line available. In case of loss of external power, all the site’s 20 diesel back-up generators are ready to supply the site with the electricity needed for all nuclear safety and security related equipment. The facility’s supplies from the grid continue to be fragile, Director General Grossi said.
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