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IAEA chief: Situation ‘serious’ at Russia-occupied nuclear plant In Ukraine

Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), paid a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine on Thursday (June 15), which is under Russian control. Grossi stated that it would be unrealistic to expect Moscow and Kyiv to sign a document guaranteeing the safety of the site while fighting was taking place nearby.

As the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, Grossi inspected the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe. His visit came after the breach of the Kakhovka dam downstream on the Dnipro River.

The plant has a cooling pond that is essential for preventing overheating of its six reactors. Normally, the Kakhovka reservoir is used to refill the pond, but this is currently not possible due to the falling water level caused by the dam breach.

The situation at the site is considered “serious,” according to Grossi, who had to pass through a Russian checkpoint and visit a plant located near the military frontline. Despite the challenges, Grossi stated that there was sufficient cooling water available and that IAEA inspectors would continue to remain at the site.

Grossi mentioned that reaching a written agreement at this stage was unrealistic due to the absence of peace or ceasefire negotiations between the parties involved. However, there is a political agreement formulated at the United Nations Security Council.

The visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was initially delayed by a day due to security concerns caused by heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces. Russian forces gained control of both the nuclear plant and the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam following their entry into Ukraine in February 2022.

Grossi has repeatedly called for an end to hostilities and battles near the nuclear plant to prevent any catastrophic accidents. The six reactors at the plant are currently in shutdown mode.

Both Russia and Ukraine blame each other for shelling the facility, resulting in repeated power outages. The plant has diesel generators and alternative water sources to mitigate these issues.

Alexei Likhachev, the head of Russia’s state nuclear energy firm Rosatom, stated that Grossi observed the security measures taken at the plant to ensure its safety following the dam breach during his visit.


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