The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said that the intensity of hostilities in the area of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant has increased.
Rafael Grossi reported that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts observing the situation at the plant heard over 20 explosions last week.
"A greater intensity of hostilities may constitute a potential security threat"
I am deeply concerned about the possible dangers the plant faces at a time of heightened military tension in the region. No matter what happens in the conflict zone, wherever it is, we will all experience a nuclear catastrophe, and I call for all necessary measures to be taken to prevent this, Grossi said, quoted in the IAEA statement.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian media reported that the roofs of four of the six power plant blocks had been mined. The agency's experts said that there were no mines at the power plant, but noted that they had not yet received access to the roofs of the four blocks. Moreover, the IAEA requested to inspect all six engine rooms sequentially, but the experts were not granted access to them.
The Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant administration informed the IAEA team that further drone attacks occurred on Thursday morning in the nearby town of Enerhodar, where many of the plant's employees live.
Fearing “another terrorist attack”, the Russian management of the plant decided to send Ukrainian employees of the power plant to their homes for a few days, Renat Karczaa, an adviser to the head of the Rosenergoatom concern, a company operating nuclear power plants, told the Interfax agency.
Sending workers home, allegedly for fear of further drone attacks, coincides with local government elections in the Russian-annexed part of the Zaporizhia Oblast – voting takes place on September 8-10.
An advisor to the head of Energoatom claims that recently the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been carrying out attacks using drones more and more often. According to him, these attacks have no impact on the situation on the front, but are only aimed at civilian infrastructure.
The Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest facility of this type in Europe, has been occupied by Russian troops since the beginning of March 2022. Russian soldiers are stationed there. Rosatom employees are also present there. The invading forces repeatedly fired at the plant area, thus creating – in the opinion of the authorities in Kyiv – a radiation threat with unpredictable consequences.
The power plant has not been producing electricity since September 2022. Two power units are under repair, three are in the so-called cold shutdown, and another in the so-called hot shutdown (blocks switched to “hot shutdown” mode will last shorter without power supply).
The facility's employees, including representatives of the power plant's management, were subjected to psychological pressure and forced to accept Russian passports and to conclude contracts with Rosatom under the threat of losing their employment or even being mobilized into the enemy army.
The IAEA has been maintaining its expert mission at the plant since September 2022. In January 2023, specialists from this agency gained access to all nuclear power plants in Ukraine, including the decommissioned facility in Chernobyl.