Shelling near South Ukraine nuclear plant prompts fresh IAEA warning

20 September 2022

Shelling which caused an explosion 300 metres from reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant "all too clearly demonstrates the dangers at other nuclear facilities in the country", said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi as he steps up efforts to implement a safety and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant.

A file picture of the South Ukraine plant (Image: Energoatom) The IAEA said that Ukraine had informed it that the explosion took place 300 metres from the South Ukraine plant. Three power lines were affected by the explosion but were reconnected "after a short period of time".

Grossi said: "While we have recently focused on the urgent need for action to prevent a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia … today’s explosion near the South Ukraine nuclear power plant all too clearly demonstrates the potential dangers also at other nuclear facilities in the country. Any military action that threatens nuclear safety and security is unacceptable and must stop immediately."

The South Ukraine plant is 250 kilometres from the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is Europe’s largest, and which is on the frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Zaporizhzhia has been under the control of Russian forces since early March, although it continues to be operated by its Ukrainian staff.

All six reactors at Zaporizhzhia are currently in a cold shutdown state following shelling at and around the site over recent weeks which have interrupted power connections to the site. An external power supply line was restored on Friday but the IAEA reported that a back-up power line which has been used to supply it with electricity through the switchyard of a nearby thermal power station had been disconnected, with the cause "not immediately clear".

"The situation at Zaporizhzhia remains fragile and precarious. Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard. The plant is located in the middle of a war zone, and its power status is far from safe and secure. Therefore, a nuclear safety and security protection zone must urgently be established there," Grossi said.

The IAEA’s director general is travelling to the United Nations this week "for high-level consultations on such a nuclear safety and security zone" around Zaporizhzhia. The IAEA, which has two experts at the site, said the plant had not been shelled in recent days, but shelling continued near it.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News