Europe’s biggest power plant, in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, was subjected to heavy shelling on Sunday, leading to strong condemnation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reuters reported.
Under the control of Russia as of now, the IAEA said that the plant responsible for providing almost a fifth of Ukraine’s energy needs before the invasion by Moscow was subjected to a dozen blasts.
Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant
“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable.” Whoever is behind this, must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire! IAEA head Rafael Grossi said Back and forth of allegations has started between the two countries over the attacks on the plant.
“Kyiv does not stop its provocations aimed at creating the threat of a man-made catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” the Russian army said in a statement. Renat Karchaa, an advisor to the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, told the news agency TASS that storage facilities, including the one housing that recently used nuclear fuel, were nearest to the shelling but avoided any kind of serious damage.
Ukrainian energy agency Energoatom returned the favor by putting the blame on Russian artillery for the possible damage. “This morning on November 20, 2022, as a result of numerous Russian shelling, at least 12 hits were recorded on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” it said in a statement. It accused Russia of strategically targeting areas closer to supply lines providing energy to restart the plant in order to limit Ukraine’s already insufficient power supply.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant relies on its six Soviet-designed VVER-1000 V-320 water-cooled and water-moderated reactors, which contain Uranium 235 and are run on the power supplied by the lines near which the shelling took place. The power supply has been previously hampered, which risks the overheating of the nuclear fuel and possible radiation. The power plant, due to the constant interruptions since the beginning of the power has been forced to run on backup generators a number of times. As of now, the cooling reactors are not operational, Reuters reports.
The presence of troops in the Zaporizhzhia region is only expected to increase in the coming days, posing further risks to the nuclear facility. Ukraine has increased its forces in the eastern part of the country and is moving towards Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv, among others, Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv said. Russia too, in order to protect its position is withdrawing from Southern parts like Kherson and regrouping closer to Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk, he added.
IAEA head Rafael Grossi said that an analysis of the situation on the ground would be conducted on Monday, considering the damage done to the infrastructure. However, Russia didn’t sound too welcoming of the proposal and intends to monitor the extent of the IAEA assessment. “They interpret their mandate as having no limits.” “This is not so,” Karcher said. “If they want to inspect a facility that has nothing to do with nuclear safety, access will be denied.”
The threat to the facility just 500 km from the site of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster comes as the Russia-Ukraine war continues to intensify. However, any laxity in maintaining the security of the plant will not just cost the former Soviet partners but also the neighboring region.