Ukraine nuclear plant shelled, U.N. warns: ‘You’re playing with fire!’

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency says there have been 12 explosions at the Ukrainian plant
  • The plant is controlled by Russian forces
  • Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of shelling
  • “You’re playing with fire!” – Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was shelled on Sunday, drawing condemnation from a U.N. nuclear watchdog that said such attacks risked a major nuclear disaster.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said more than a dozen explosions rocked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on Saturday and Sunday evening. Both Moscow and Kyiv hold each other responsible for the shelling of these facilities.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said: “The news from our team yesterday and this morning is very sad. “There have been explosions at the site of this large nuclear power plant that are completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this must be stopped immediately. As I have said many times before, you are playing with fire!”

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Citing information provided by the plant’s management, the IAEA team said some buildings, systems and equipment at the site were damaged, but none critical to nuclear safety and security so far.

Repeated shelling of the power plant in southern Ukraine, which Russia took control of shortly after its February invasion, has raised concerns about the possibility of a major accident within 500 kilometers (300 miles) of the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl. 1986, has increased. Tragedy.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant supplied about a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia’s February 24 invasion and has been forced to operate on backup generators several times. It has six VVER-1000 V-320 water-cooled, water-moderated reactors containing Soviet-designed uranium-235.

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The reactors are shut down, but there is a risk that the nuclear fuel will overheat if the power that drives the cooling systems goes out. Shelling has repeatedly cut power lines.

The parties exchange blame

Both Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of attacking the plant on several occasions during the conflict and risked a nuclear accident, retaliating on Sunday.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine fired at power lines supplying the plant, while Tass quoted an official at Russian nuclear energy operator Rosenergoatom as reporting that some of the site’s storage facilities had been hit by Ukrainian bullets.

“They shelled not only yesterday, but also today, they are shelling now,” said Renate Karcha, adviser to the CEO of Rosenergoatom.

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According to TASS, Karcha said the shots were fired near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses freshly spent nuclear fuel, but no radioactive release has been detected at this time. Is.

Ukraine’s nuclear power company Energoatom accused the Russian military of shelling the site and said there had been at least 12 attacks on the plant’s infrastructure.

The statement said Russia had targeted the infrastructure needed to restart parts of the plant in an attempt to further limit Ukraine’s electricity supply.

Reporting by Guy Falconbridge in London, Pavel Politok in Kyiv and Caleb Davies in Gdansk. By Guy Falconbridge. Edited by Parveen Char and Francis Carey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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