Grossi condemns drone strikes at Zaporizhzhia site

08 April 2024

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi described three drone strikes at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant site as a serious incident that endangered nuclear safety and security.

The Zaporizhzhia plant (Image: Energoatom)

While there are no indications of damage to critical nuclear safety or security systems at the site, the IAEA said the military strikes were "another stark reminder of persistent threats to the ZNPP and other nuclear facilities during the armed conflict".

After receiving information from the plant about the drone attacks on 7 April, the IAEA experts stationed at the site went to three affected locations. They were able to confirm the physical impact of the drone detonations, including at one of the site's six reactor buildings where surveillance and communication equipment appeared to have been targeted. While they were at the roof of the reactor, unit 6, Russian troops engaged what appeared to be an approaching drone. This was followed by an explosion near the reactor building.

The IAEA team reported that they observed remnants of drones at this and two other impact locations at the site. At one of them, outside a laboratory, they saw blood stains next to a damaged military logistics vehicle, indicating at least one casualty.

The experts reported hearing explosions and rifle fire on the site throughout the day. Additionally, the IAEA team heard several rounds of outgoing artillery fire from near the plant.

While the team so far has not observed any structural damage to systems, structures, and components important to nuclear safety or security of the plant, they reported observing minor superficial scorching to the top of the reactor dome roof of unit 6 and scoring of a concrete slab supporting the primary make-up water storage tanks.

"This is a major escalation of the nuclear safety and security dangers facing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," Grossi said. "Such reckless attacks significantly increase the risk of a major nuclear accident and must cease immediately.

"As I have repeatedly stated - including at the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors - no one can conceivably benefit or get any military or political advantage from attacks against nuclear facilities. Attacking a nuclear power plant is an absolute no go. I firmly appeal to military decision makers to abstain from any action violating the basic principles that protect nuclear facilities."

The IAEA noted that it is the first time since November 2022 that the Zaporizhzhia plant - which has been under Russian military control since early March 2022 - has been directly targeted in military action.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the first drone hit the area adjacent to the canteen at 11.38 am, injuring three people, one of them seriously. Half an hour later, a drone attacked the cargo port area. Then the dome of unit 6 was hit by a drone.

Both Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the drone attacks at the plant, with Rosatom saying it "categorically condemns the unprecedented attack".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News