Latest shelling near Ukrainian nuclear power plant was ‘close call,’ IAEA chief says

Russia Ukraine War IAEA
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks to the media as a mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency prepare to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko) Andriy Andriyenko/AP

Latest shelling near Ukrainian nuclear power plant was ‘close call,’ IAEA chief says

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Renewed fighting between Ukraine and Russia near the Zaporizhzhia power plant has again raised concerns from experts about the possibility of a nuclear accident.

Experts at the power plant said that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a 40-minute period on Sunday morning local time, according to an update from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reported that site management reported “damage in several places.” This included a “radioactive waste and storage building, cooling pond sprinkler systems, an electrical cable to one of the diesel generators, condensate storage tanks, and to a bridge between a reactor and its auxiliary buildings.”

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None of the damage, however, was “critical for nuclear safety and security,” and there were no reported casualties either.

“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!” Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The perpetrators firing at the plant are “taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives,” he added. “Once again, we were fortunate that a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen. Next time, we may not be so lucky. We must do everything in our power to make sure there is no next time.”

The leader of Russia’s state-run atomic energy agency, Rosatom, warned on Monday that the plant is “at risk of a nuclear accident,” according to Interfax.

“The plant is exposed to the risk of a nuclear accident. We were in negotiations with the IAEA the whole night,” Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev said, adding that it had been a “pretty quiet period” since September. “However, there were at least 30 strikes over the weekend. The spent nuclear fuel storage facility, the special building, and transport routes have been struck, and reserve diesel generators have been damaged.”

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The IAEA announced investigators would conduct a review of the plant on Monday.

Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for the attacks. It’s not the first time periodic fighting has broken out near the plant, and the concerns remain the same: the possibility of an unintended nuclear catastrophe.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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