Explosions at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant Worry IAEA

OrganizationsOther ♦ Published: November 20, 2022; 22:17 ♦ (Vindobona)

There have been several powerful explosions at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhya, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA experts on site had reported dozens of impacts near and on the site of Europe's largest nuclear facility.

The current shelling at the ZNPP has caused chaos and IAEA Chief Grossi has been in active consultation with world leaders regarding nuclear safety and security zones. / Picture: © IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency / Flickr Attribution (CC BY 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The latest incidents abruptly ended a period of relative calm at the Russian-occupied facility, Director General Rafael Grossi said, “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.” Grossi emphasized the urgent need to protect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and prevent a nuclear accident during the current Ukrainian conflict.

According to the statement, IAEA experts witnessed some of the explosions from their windows. Several buildings, systems, and equipment were damaged, according to the plant's management.

The shelling came dangerously close to key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, even though it did not directly affect them. However, the damage has not affected nuclear safety so far. There have been no injuries. "We are talking meters, not kilometers. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives,” Director General Grossi said.

Russia and Ukraine accuse each other

Russia has effectively controlled Europe's largest nuclear power plant since early March when Moscow's troops occupied large parts of southern Ukraine as part of the war of aggression. The nuclear plant has come under fire several times in recent months during heavy fighting, while Ukraine and Russia blame each other.

The Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukrainian forces of fiercely shelling the nuclear power plant with artillery. Twelve large-caliber shells were aimed at the plant this morning alone, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, according to Russian news agencies, according to ORF.

Eight projectiles hit between the reactor blocks, he said, and one hit the roof of a special station. The radiation in the vicinity of the nuclear power plant was normal, Konashenkov also said, according to ORF.

The Ukrainians blame the Russians for shelling the ZNPP in southern Ukraine. It is noted that the attack damaged communication cabinets with special housings, chemical saltwater storage tanks, the steam generator blow-off system, auxiliary systems of one of the two diesel engines of the NPP and other equipment of the NPP, according to Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom.

There were also three hits near the Raduga substation, the details of which are still being clarified, according to Energoatom.

"The nature and the list of damaged equipment of the Zaporizhzhya NPP indicate that the crooks (Russian Army) targeted and disabled the very infrastructure that was necessary for the commissioning of units 5 and 6 and the resumption of power generation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP for Ukraine's needs," the company stressed.

Energoatom recalled that it had recently decided to bring power units 5 and 6 to the minimum controllable capacity to generate steam, which is urgently needed in winter to ensure the safety of the power plant, personnel, population and the environment.

As a result of the current shelling and provoked chaos at the ZNPP, Grossi told reporters that he has been in active consultations with world leaders and that a nuclear safety and security zone must be agreed upon and implemented immediately.