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UN Team To Inspect Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant Amid Radiation Fears

By RFE/RL August 29, 2022

A mission from the UN's nuclear safety agency is due later this week to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, where increased fighting is sparking fears of a possible massive radiation leak.

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a post on Twitter on August 29 that the "day has come" and that a team of IAEA experts was "now on its way" to the nuclear power plant, which Russian forces have controlled since shortly after the invasion began on February 24, sparking nuclear safety fears.

"We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine's and Europe's biggest nuclear facility. Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week," Grossi said.

The day has come, @IAEAorg's Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) is now on its way. We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine's and Europe's biggest nuclear facility. Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week. pic.twitter.com/tyVY7l4SrM
— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) August 29, 2022

The IAEA's experts were set to assess physical damage to the plant, determine the functionality of safety and security systems, evaluate staff conditions, and perform urgent safeguards activities, the agency said.

Neither he nor the agency specified when they would arrive at Zaporizhzhya.

Ukraine's energy ministry said it would not comment on the IAEA mission "for security reasons."

The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the plant to ensure it is not a target in the conflict.

Safety fears at the facility have escalated in recent weeks as Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame for rocket strikes around the facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar.

Attacks were reported over the weekend not only in Russian-controlled territory adjacent to the plant along the left bank of the Dnieper River, but along the Ukraine-controlled right bank, including the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets, each about 10 kilometers from the facility.

Ukraine's atomic energy agency, Enerhoatom, issued on August 28 a map forecasting where radiation could spread from the power plant in the event of an accident, showing that based on wind forecasts for August 29 a nuclear cloud could spread across southern Ukraine and southwestern Russia.

Authorities last week began distributing iodine tablets to residents who live near the Zaporizhzhya plant in case of radiation exposure.

Much of the concern centers on the cooling systems for the plant's nuclear reactors. The systems require electricity, and the plant was temporarily knocked offline on August 25 because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line. A cooling system failure could cause a nuclear meltdown.

Periodic shelling has damaged the power station's infrastructure, Enerhoatom said on August 27.

The IAEA reported on August 28 that radiation levels were normal, that two of the Zaporizhzhya plant's six reactors were operating, and that while no complete assessment had yet been made, recent fighting had damaged a water pipeline, since repaired.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-zaporizhzhya-nuclear-iaea- inspection-russia-invasion/32008573.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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