The United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency cautioned about a possible nuclear safety hazard caused by an escalation in fighting near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, while the nation’s forces persisted in their counteroffensive on Saturday amid the ongoing conflict.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that its experts stationed at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, currently under Russian occupation, had reported a series of explosions over the past week. This potentially signaled heightened military activity in the area, but fortunately, no damage occurred to the plant.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi issued a statement on Friday. “I remain deeply concerned about the possible dangers facing the plant at this time of heightened military tension in the region,” said Grossi.
He highlighted that the IAEA team received information indicating that staffing levels at the nuclear power plant had been temporarily reduced to the bare minimum due to apprehensions about heightened military activity in the vicinity.
NEW: According to today's update from the @iaeaorg, staffing levels at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are being reduced to "minimum levels over the next few days" due to a big uptick in military activity in the area. pic.twitter.com/f6endXuzKS
— Geoff Brumfiel (@gbrumfiel) September 8, 2023
Grossi said, “Whatever happens in a conflict zone, wherever it may be, everybody would stand to lose from a nuclear accident, and I urge that all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid it happening.”
The IAEA has consistently voiced its worry that the conflict could lead to a potential radiation release from the facility, which ranks among the world’s ten largest nuclear power stations. Although the plant’s six reactors have been offline for several months, it still requires electricity and skilled personnel to manage essential cooling systems and other safety mechanisms.
While Ukrainian forces continued their offensive to secure additional territory following the capture of Robotyne village in the Zaporizhzhia region, the U.K. Defense Ministry highlighted in its latest report that Russia had deployed additional troops to hinder the Ukrainian progress.
The report said, “It is highly likely that Russia has redeployed forces from other areas of the frontline to replace degraded units around Robotyne. These redeployments are likely limiting Russia’s ability to carry out offensive operations of its own along other areas of the front line.”
The Institute for the Study of War, headquartered in Washington, observed that the Russian military has implemented significant alterations to its command and control framework with the aim to “protect command infrastructure and improve information sharing.”
Russian forces persist in their sustained assault on Ukraine. Authorities in the northeastern Sumy region, which shares a border with Russia, reported that the recent Russian shelling in the area resulted in injuries to four individuals, tragically leading to the death of one of them at a hospital.