UN: ‘real risk of nuclear disaster’ in Ukraine

Chernobyl

The UN nuclear chief warned Aug. 3 that the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant “is completely out of control,” and issued an urgent call for Russian occupation forces to immediately allow experts to visit the sprawling Zaporizhzhia complex. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the Associated Press: “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated… What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.” The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant has been under Russian military control since early March, although it is still being operated by Ukrainian engineers.

Two days after Grossi’s warning, Ukrainian and Russian officials blamed each other for a series of blasts within the Zaporizhzhia complex, which damaged transmission lines and other equipment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian forces shelled the plant in what he called “an act of terror.” The Russian military responded by claiming a Ukrainian artillery strike was responsible, calling the attack “nuclear terrorism.”

Kyiv has been accusing Russian forces of using the plant as a “shield,” firing on Ukrainian positions from within the complex. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the “possible consequences of hitting an operating reactor are equivalent to the use of an atomic bomb.”

Grossi responded to this escalation by warning of a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster.” Again demanding that the IAEA to be granted access to the plant, he added: “Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would amount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences.” (BBC News, BBC News, 1945)

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has accused the IAEA of downplaying the damage caused at the stricken Chernobyl plant, which was seized by Russian forces on Feb. 24 and returned to Ukrainian control on March 31. The environmental organization conducted a survey of the Chernobyl complex to check what it called the “very limited data” from the IAEA concerning increased radiation levels. The survey was conducted in cooperation with scientists from the Ukrainian State Agency on the Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM). Drones were emplloyed in areas of the complex where Russian forces had planted landmines. Greenpeace reported radiation levels three times higher than those reported by a previous IAEA survey in areas where Russian troops had dug trenches in contaminated ground.

Greenpeace said it is concerned that the IAEA has been “severely compromised” due to its ties to Russia’s state nuclear agency, ROSATOM. Greenpeace stated that current IAEA deputy director Mikhail Chudakov, is “a long term ROSATOM official.” (Greenpeace, Newsweek)

Photo: Wikipedia

  1. More rockets fall on Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex

    Russian TV has shown rockets that fell inside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex. Russia blames Ukraine, but Ukraine says Russia has targeted the parts of the plant that send electricity to Ukraine and is now diverting the power to the Russian grid. (PBS)

  2. Russia rejects calls for Zaporizhzhia DMZ

    Russia has rejected calls from the United Nations for a demilitarized zone around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Moscow’s forces since early March and lies in a region of Ukraine that is set to become a new frontline of the war. Russia’s permanent representative to the body, Vasily Nebenzya, told Interfax on Aug. 12 that Moscow must “protect” the Zaporizhzhia plant. A withdrawal of its troops would make the facility “vulnerable…to provocations and terrorist attacks,” he said. (BAS)

  3. IAEA establishes presence at Zaporizhzhia complex

    The UN nuclear agency says it will establish an ongoing presence at the beseiged Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection team braved intense shelling to reach the plant, arriving after a delay of several hours Sept. 1. The convoy was met with a large contingent of Russian soldiers. (Al Jazeera)

  4. Shelling cuts off outside power to Zaporizhzhia plant

    The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was disconnected from the nation’s power grid after renewed shelling is now using one of its own reactors to power critical cooling systems.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the plant is “one step away from a radiation disaster” because Russian shelling. “Today the last power transmission line connecting the plant to the energy system of Ukraine was damaged due to another Russian provocative shelling. Again—this is the second time—due to Russian provocation, the Zaporizhzhia plant is one step away from a radiation disaster,” Zelensky said during a presidential address. (NYT, The Hill)

  5. Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant shut down

    The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been fully stopped, Ukraine’s state agency Energoatom reported. Its last working Unit 6 was disconnected from the power grid on Sept. 11. Preparations are underway for its cooling and transfer to a “cold state.”

    Enerhoatom said that for the past three days, Unit 6 had worked in an “island mode,” feeding only the plant’s own needs, since all lines linking Zaporizhzhia to Ukraine’s grid were damaged due to Russian shelling. On Sept. 10, one of the power lines was repaired, enabling the plant to be supplied from Ukraine, and a decision was made to attempt a “cold shutdown.” (EuroMaidan Press)