Powerful explosions erupt in ZNPP area: IAEA experts
Experts in the UN nuclear watchdog report explosions erupting in the vicinity of the Zaparozhye nuclear power plant.
Power explosions in the area of the Zaparozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP) the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday, citing experts working with the nuclear watchdog.
"Powerful explosions have been occurring outside the facility, indicating military activities in the vicinity of the site located on the frontline of the ongoing conflict," the agency said.
Agency experts at the station reported in recent days and weeks such incidents to the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna on a near-daily basis.
"Some blasts apparently take place some distance away from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), while others seem much closer to the facility itself," the experts said.
"Yesterday, eight strong detonations were heard at around 10 am local time, causing office windows at the plant to vibrate, and more were audible today," they reported.
When asked during a press conference about the possibility of an accident at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, 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 told reporters.
The 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.
Grossi said earlier that the agency would increase its presence in Ukraine to help avoid a nuclear accident amid the continuation of the Ukraine war.
In the meantime, the IAEA is ramping up its efforts in the region to "help prevent a nuclear accident" from occurring amid Ukrainian shelling around the plant.
However, a senior official in the Zaporozhye regional government, Vladimir Rogov, said in December 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.
"Western countries and [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky's regime continue to speculate on the creation of a security zone around the ZNPP, even though it is obvious to everyone that the danger to the nuclear plant comes exclusively from Zelensky's militants who repeatedly fired at the facility. Therefore, only one option is possible - to create a security zone; in which Kiev retreats its troops and heavy weapons to a distance from which they will not be able to strike at the nuclear power plant," Rogov said.
The IAEA has repeatedly stated that a safety zone around the ZNPP was required.