IAEA chief warns of ‘very real risk’ of disaster at Ukraine nuclear power plant

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The head of the UN nuclear agency on Saturday warned of the “very real risk of nuclear disaster” from the shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for Friday’s bombing of Zaporizhzhya, the largest nuclear facility in Europe, and both sides called it an act of terror.

“I am extremely concerned about yesterday’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the UN. The International Atomic Energy Agency announced this in a statement on Saturday.

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“Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would be tantamount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” Grossi added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops fired twice at the facility. The attack amounted to “an overt, brutal crime, an act of terror,” he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Kiev for three artillery strikes that hit the plant’s area, calling them “acts of nuclear terrorism.”

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“According to Ukraine, there is no damage to the reactors themselves and no radiological release,” Grossi said. “But elsewhere on the site there is damage.”

Grossi reiterated his call for a team of IAEA experts to visit the Zaporizhzhia site to provide “unbiased and independent information on the status” of the facility.

“Ukrainian personnel operating the plant under Russian occupation must be able to perform their important duties without threats or pressures that undermine not only their own security, but that of the facility itself,” Grossi said.

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Ukraine’s Energy Minister, German Galushchenko, has rejected a possible IAEA visit to the plant while it remains under Russian control, as it has since March.

The day-to-day operations of the facility remain in the hands of Ukrainian workers, while staff from Rosatom, the Russian nuclear operator, are also on site.

Post IAEA chief warns of ‘very real risk’ of disaster at Ukraine nuclear power plant appeared first on Politico.

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