War in Ukraine: IAEA increasingly concerned about the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, “a real risk of nuclear disaster”

Friday’s strikes are “the latest in a long list of increasingly alarming information”, denounced IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, saying they demonstrate a “real real risk of nuclear disaster that could threaten health and environment in Ukraine and beyond,” according to a statement.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s atomic energy company Energoatom said the shelling had “seriously damaged” a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an “auxiliary building”.

“There are still risks of leaking hydrogen and radioactive substances, and the risk of fire is also high,” she said.

Ukraine and Russia blamed each other, with Ukraine citing two Russian strikes and Russia citing Ukrainian artillery fire.

“I condemn any violence committed in or near” the plant and against its staff, said Mr. Grossi. Any “military action threatening the security and safety” of the plant is “completely unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs”, he urged.

He reiterated his intention to lead a mission of experts on the spot, rejected so far by Ukraine for fear that this would legitimize the Russian occupation of the site.

Mr. Grossi did not give up, however: “I will continue to push and push again so that this IAEA mission can take place”, he said, while admitting that he would need the ” cooperation, understanding and facilitation on the part of Ukraine and Russia”.

He makes a point of providing “impartial and independent information” at the end of this inspection mission aimed at “essential checks on the plant”.

When the plant was taken over in March, the Russian military had opened fire on buildings on the site, posing the risk of a major nuclear accident.

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