Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine: the head of the UN condemns the “suicidal” bombardments around a nuclear power plant

“Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told reporters Monday in Tokyo. “I hope these attacks will stop,” he said, and asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to gain access to the plant.

The Zaporizhzhia plant occupies a large site on the Dnipro River. It has continued to operate at reduced capacity since Russian forces captured it in early March, with Ukrainian technicians remaining at work.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom said a worker was injured by Russian shelling around the plant on Saturday.

Energoatom claimed that three radiation monitoring sensors were also damaged, saying “rapid detection and response to a worsening radiation situation or radiation leakage from spent nuclear fuel drums is currently impossible.”

“This time, a nuclear disaster has been miraculously averted, but miracles cannot last forever,” the company added.

Speaking on Ukrainian television, Energoatom chairman Petro Kotin said a strike on Sunday took place up to 20 meters from the treated fuel storage area.

“If they had hit the containers with the treated fuel, it would be a radiological accident,” he said.

Kotin suggested that if one container is hit “it will be a local accident in the territory of the factory and the neighboring territory. If it is two (or) three containers, the affected area will increase.”

Kotin also said that during the bombardment the lines of communication between the nuclear plant, the hydroelectric plant and the Ukrainian energy system were broken.

“At present, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is connected to the Ukrainian energy system only with one communication line. If all lines are damaged, the power plant will go into the so-called” black-out “mode, which means becoming completely de-energized. And this situation will be very dangerous for keeping the fuel in nuclear reactors in a safe state,” he said.

This is the second time in as many days that the plant has been affected. Ukraine and Russia traded blame for the two attacks.

Russian-backed authorities in the nearest town – Enerhodar – claimed that a Ukrainian missile had landed less than 400 meters from one of the plant’s reactors. The town was seized by Russian forces along with the power station.

“Tonight, Ukrainian armed formations struck with a rocket with clusters of 220 mm Uragan missiles,” said the local authority, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“The administrative buildings and the adjoining territory of the dry barrel storage facility were damaged by the projectiles. It is important to note that the place of impact of the warhead fragments and the rocket propulsion engine itself- even are no more than 400 meters from the active reactor,” authorities said.

CNN cannot verify the claims made by either party. The Russians shelled the Ukrainian town of Nikopol from positions around the plant.

Fears over the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have grown since Russian forces seized the site, but reached an inflection point on Friday when shelling damaged a high-voltage power line and forced one of the plant reactors to stop working, despite the absence of radioactive leaks. being detected.

Blinken accuses Russia of

After the attack, Energoatom said Russian shellfire damaged a nitrogen-oxygen station and the combined auxiliary building, and that there were “still risks of hydrogen leakage and spraying of radioactive substances, and the risk of fire is also high”.

On Saturday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said he was extremely concerned about the bombings “which underscore the very real risk of a nuclear catastrophe that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond. of the”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has accused Russia of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to sow terror in Europe, said on Sunday he had spoken with European Council President Charles Michel about the situation in the complex.

“Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger response from the international community – sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel,” Zelensky tweeted.

The IAEA has tried to coordinate a mission of safeguards experts to visit the plant since it was seized by Russian forces. Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, warned of catastrophic consequences if anything were to happen to the plant at a press conference on Monday, saying it would “not even be comparable in Chernobyl or Fukushima”.

Tsymbaliuk said Ukraine would like to see a delegation of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations visit the station to monitor its status, but Russia’s military actions in Ukraine make such a trip “impossible”.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from afar on Thursday.

“Irresponsible violation of nuclear safety rules”

As Russia and Ukraine blame each other for recent rocket and missile attacks near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Energoatom Chairman Kotin said Russian forces must be expelled from the plant and a demilitarized zone was to be created on the territory of the power plant.

He also repeated Ukrainian claims that Russia had moved weapons into the plant’s power units.

“There are 14 units of heavy military equipment in the first motor unit. There are 6 vehicles in the second engine room and we don’t know what is inside these vehicles. There are also heavy weapons,” he said.

He also claimed that Russian troops had occupied all the shelters at the power plant and the workers had nowhere to go when the bombings occurred.

Several Western and Ukrainian officials believe Russia is now using the giant nuclear facility as a stronghold to protect its troops and launch attacks, as they assume Kyiv will not retaliate and risk a crisis.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called the strikes at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant a

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Moscow of using the plant to protect its forces, while the UK Ministry of Defense said in a recent security assessment that Russia’s actions at the complex were sabotaging the security of its operations.

The Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, said in late July that Russian forces had been observed using heavy weapons near the plant because “they know very well that the Ukrainian armed forces will not respond to these attacks, because they can damage the nuclear power plant”. plant.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry warned on Friday that further attacks on the factory could be disastrous.

“The possible consequences of an impact on an operating reactor are equivalent to the use of an atomic bomb,” the ministry said on Twitter.

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