IAEA’s Grossi and team at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

01 September 2022

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and his team of inspectors arrived at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, following delays and despite the on-going conflict in the area.

The IAEA team arrives at the Zaporizhzhia plant (Image: Screengrab from BBC News video)

The nuclear power plant has six units. It has been occupied by the Russian military since early March, although its Ukrainian staff have continued to operate it.

Grossi and the IAEA have been trying to stage a mission to the plant for months, and have called for a halt to any military action in and around the site. However, there has been no let-up in the shelling in or near the nuclear plant, with Ukraine and Russia each blaming the other side.

Grossi has warned that the situation at the plant contravenes the IAEA’s safety guide for nuclear power plants and the aim of the mission is to "conduct indispensable nuclear safety and security and safeguards activities" and to try to "stabilise the situation". There have also been reports the aim is to establish a permanent team at the site to try to lessen tensions.

It has taken months to reach agreement on a visit to the nuclear power plant which is close to the frontline between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

The difficulties were clear on Thursday, as Grossi and the UN-flagged IAEA team’s vehicles set off from the city of Zaporizhzhia on the last leg of the journey - the 100km or so to the nuclear power plant, including crossing into Russian controlled territory.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said that Russian shelling of the plant had again damaged a backup power supply line forcing it to take one of the two operating units offline.  Meanwhile Russia’s TASS news service reported that the Russian Defence Ministry claimed to have thwarted an attempt by Ukrainian troops on Thursday morning to seize back the nuclear plant.

Speaking to the media as he set off on the last leg of the journey on Thursday morning, Grossi said: "We are aware of the current situation, there has been increased military activity, including this morning. I have been briefed by the Ukrainian regional military commander here about that and the inherent risks but, weighing the pros and cons, and having come so far, we are not stopping."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News