IAEA's Grossi: Nuclear accident could happen at any minute in Ukraine
The ZNPP remains a tense point as Ukrainian forces keep targeting it.
When asked during a press conference about the possibility of an accident at a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Ukraine, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi stated it could happen at any minute - if it wasn't surrounded by a safety zone.
"It can happen any moment, any time. Today you can have a quiet situation, and the next day you can have shelling, and this has happened. And when shelling comes, or when the external power supplies are interrupted, and the reactors are no longer cooled, you can have a meltdown," Grossi replied to the journalist.
ZNPP as a focal point
The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) remains a tense point of focus in this regard as Ukrainian forces seem to keep targeting it even after it the region joined Russia this past fall in a referendum.
It is the largest NPP in Europe with six power units and a capacity of 1 gigawatt each. It has been under Russian protection since March 2022, which was justified and validated by the Russian Foreign Ministry as a step to avoid nuclear and radioactive material leakage and spill.
Previous shelling by Ukrainian forces against the ZNPP has caused power outages and infrastructure damages.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated in light of Ukraine's constant targeting that it is the latter's way of painting a mirage of a nuclear disaster threat. Following that, the IAEA repeatedly stressed the need for a safety zone around the ZNPP.
On Monday, Grossi said that the agency will increase its presence in Ukraine to help avoid a nuclear accident amid the continuation of the Ukraine war.
"@IAEAorg is expanding its presence in #Ukraine to help prevent a nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict. I’m proud to lead this mission to [Ukraine], where we’re deploying in all of the country’s NPPs to provide assistance in nuclear safety & security," Grossi tweeted.
.@IAEAorg is expanding its presence in #Ukraine to help prevent a nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict. I’m proud to lead this mission to 🇺🇦, where we’re deploying in all of the country’s NPPs to provide assistance in nuclear safety & security. pic.twitter.com/hks7jMpLBj— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) January 16, 2023
However, a senior official in the Zaporozhye regional government, Vladimir Rogov, said last month that the main requirement for establishing a security zone around the ZNPP should be the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops to a distance from which they will be unable to deliver strikes at the station.
"A protective dome is being mounted at the ZNPP over the storage facility for spent nuclear waste," Rogov also assured earlier on Telegram. The dome is designed to protect against fragments of shells and improvised explosive devices carried by drones, according to the official.