IAEA Chief Outlines Gravest Risk To Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi says that a team of inspectors which arrived Thursday will stay present at the embattled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on an indefinite basis in hopes of ensuring its safe operation. He returned from the site and briefed reporters in Vienna, outlining the looming concerns.
“The gravest risk to the embattled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is physical damage to equipment from shelling that could lead to a release of radiation,” he warned.
“It is obvious there is a lot of fighting in general in this part of Ukraine,” Grossi said, and observed that “The military activity and operations are increasing in that part of the country, and this worries me a lot.”
“It’s obvious that the plant, and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated, several times. [Whether] by chance [or deliberately], we don’t have the elements to assess that. But this is a reality that we have to recognize, and this is something that cannot continue to happen,” he told the Friday press briefing, without assigning blame for which side shelled the facility.
He further affirmed of the IAEA team he led to the site that “six of the agency’s experts remain at the plant” to maintain “permanent presence on site… with two of our experts who will be continuing the work.”
“We’re glad that Russian Federation did what it needed to do to keep our inspectors safe…” pic.twitter.com/yDZyUPOpGA
— ДражаМ (@DrazaM33) September 1, 2022
While no unsafe radiation levels or any kind of leak has yet been detected, Grossi still painted a picture of the crisis at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – which before the war supplied 30% of Ukraine’s electricity needs – as a potential disaster waiting to happen if extra measures aren’t taken to restore operations up to standard:
Overall, not one of what the nuclear monitoring agency calls the seven pillars of nuclear safety, which include physical integrity, reliable external power and availability of spare parts, remains intact, Grossi said.
He said that most of the shelling of the plant occurred in August, which was when each warring side intensified accusations that the other was behind the attacks.
Some 500 Russian troops have occupied the site since March, with mostly Ukrainian engineers still operating it. He praised the plant’s technicians for coping under wartime stresses, saying it is “admirable for the Ukrainian experts to continue to work in these conditions.”
— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) September 1, 2022
Interestingly, the assessment of his team appeared to directly contradict what Ukrainian officials have been alleging regarding Ukrainian engineers being tortured amid a Kremlin orchestrated ‘cover up’. The Associated Press wrote:
But on some points, the agency’s initial assessment was more optimistic than the picture painted by Ukrainian officials, who had said that engineers and other employees had been subjected to harsh interrogation and even torture, raising stress levels when they returned to work in reactor control rooms and in other critical jobs.
Ukrainian officials have long argued that the plant’s engineers should be viewed as hostages who are being hindered from operating or speaking freely, but Grossi’s eyewitness account did not in any way back the claims.
Sat, 09/03/2022 – 15:00