Russians allegedly mine piles: IAEA boss fears nuclear catastrophe in Zaporizhia

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine is damaged in a bomb attack.

Russians allegedly mine piles: IAEA boss fears nuclear catastrophe in Zaporizhia

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine is damaged in a bomb attack. The Ukrainian nuclear authority warns of an increased risk of fire and radiation. One of the nuclear reactors shuts down automatically, but the other blocks continue to work.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been alarmed by the shelling of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops. IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi warned of the risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond. He was "extremely concerned" about Friday's events.

"Any military firepower aimed at or emanating from the facility would be playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences," Grossi said. A threat to the security of Zaporizhia must be avoided "at all costs".

After the attacks on the site of the nuclear power plant, one of the nuclear reactors was shut down, according to the Ukrainian state operator. The "emergency protection system" was triggered by the air strikes and the reactor was switched off, Energoatom told Telegram. Despite the attacks, other reactors continue to produce electricity. Ukraine and Russia blame each other for Friday's bombing.

According to Energoatom, the bombings "seriously damaged" an "auxiliary building" and a nitrogen and oxygen station. There is an increased risk of fire and radiation. However, the Ukrainian staff is working and the power plant continues to produce electricity. "The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards," the agency wrote on its Telegram channel.

According to a report, Russian forces are to mine the area around the power plant. The Kremlin-critical medium "The Insider" reports on a video that is said to have been recorded at the beginning of the week. It shows Russian military trucks driving onto the power plant site and unloading goods there. One of the trucks drives into an engine room. According to "The Insider", either the power plant itself or the area around it was mined. For weeks there has been criticism that the Russian troops are using the nuclear power plant as a protective shield for their own artillery, which is shelling Ukrainian-controlled areas from there.

The EU condemned "Russia's military activities around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant". EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted: "This is a serious and irresponsible violation of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms."

Russian troops took control of the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Europe in March shortly after the troops marched into the country. The IAEA has been trying to send inspectors to the facility for weeks. Ukraine has so far refused to do so, saying it would legitimize Russia's occupation of the site in the eyes of the international community.

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