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U.N. nuclear chief says safety nonetheless fragile at Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant


International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi (proper) with Ukrainian Minister of Energy German Galushchenko discuss to the press throughout a media briefing, in Kyiv, on February 6, 2024, earlier than the go to of a crew from the IAEA to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant in southern Ukraine.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Security at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant stays fragile amid worrying latest workers cuts enacted by Russian authorities occupying the ability, which is among the 10 greatest atomic energy crops on the earth, the United Nations nuclear watchdog chief stated on February 6.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi, who’s in Kyiv, advised The Associated Press that his upcoming go to to the plant because the struggle approaches its two-year milestone will intention to evaluate the impression of latest personnel reductions after Russia denied entry to staff of Ukraine’s Energoatom.

“This huge facility used to have around 12,000 staff. Now, this has been reduced to between 2,000 and 3,000, which is quite a steep reduction in the number of people working there,” Mr. Grossi stated. “To man, to operate these very sophisticated big installations you need a certain number of people performing different specific functions.”

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“So far the situation is stable, but it is a very, very delicate equilibrium,” he stated. “So this is why I need to see for myself what is the situation, what are the prospects in terms of staffing, medium-term and long-term as well.”

The IAEA has repeatedly expressed alarm in regards to the facility amid fears of a possible nuclear disaster. The plant has repeatedly been caught within the crossfire since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and seized the ability shortly after.

The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, however it nonetheless wants energy and certified workers to function essential cooling techniques and different security options.

Mr. Rossi stated he would additionally examine the steadiness of the ability’s cooling operate within the wake of the Kakhovka Dam collapse over the summer time, and the presence of mines in and across the plant.

The plant suffered yet one more blackout final month, highlighting persevering with nuclear security issues as battles rage close by.

“All these things tell us that the situation in Zaporizhzhia continues to be fragile and it requires constant care,” Mr. Grossi stated.

Of explicit concern is the Russian determination to dam entry for Ukrainian workers employed by Kyiv’s nationwide operator, who refused to signal contracts with the Russian operator on the web site.

The workers working on the plant now are former Energoatom employees who adopted Russian citizenship and signed new contracts with Russia’s operator on the web site.

Reasons for the workers discount differ. Some employees fled, many didn’t need to stay in occupied territory and those that determined to stay didn’t need to work for Russia.

“Some did continue working, and my Russian counterparts are telling me that they are signing up more and more people. So it’s something that we need to check,” stated Mr. Grossi.

The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for practically 18 months and produce no electrical energy however nonetheless maintain massive quantities of nuclear gas that should be cooled. The collapse of the dam in June jeopardized entry to the reservoir the place water was drawn for cooling. To compensate, the plant administration dug wells. “Now we want to see how this has evolved,” Mr. Grossi stated.

He is to satisfy with Ukrainian officers earlier than heading to the plant. He can be on account of journey to Moscow for talks with officers there.

Also Read | Is Russia successful the Ukraine struggle?

Access to the whole plant facility for IAEA specialists completely based mostly there may be nonetheless restricted, with Russian authorities denying requests to see sure areas.

Mr. Grossi confirmed his crew noticed anti-personnel mines in some areas of the plant, one other trigger for concern that he must see along with his personal eyes. He added, nonetheless, that the mines look like positioned between the 2 perimeter fences.

“We say mines at a nuclear power plant are not advisable, but what we see is that the placement and the type of mines would not pose an immediate danger to the facility.”

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