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The Ukrainian government has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of an incident caused by shelling on Saturday near the dry spent fuel storage facility at the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant that would have caused “some damage” although without influencing radiation in the area.
As detailed by the IAEA in a statement, the event occurred a day after an earlier shelling damaged the plant’s external power supply system, also injuring a Ukrainian security guard at the plant, which is located in the southeast of the country.
The explosion also damaged walls, a roof and windows in the area of the spent fuel storage facility, as well as communication cables that are part of its radiation monitoring system, with a possible impact on the operation of three radiation detection sensors, Ukraine has informed the IAEA.
However, from Ukraine they have assured that there has been no visible damage to the containers with spent nuclear fuel or to the perimeter protection of the facility.
“On the basis of the information provided by Ukraine, IAEA experts have assessed that there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of Saturday’s incident,” the agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi, has later detailed.
“However, Friday and Saturday’s shelling of the Zaporiyia power plant breached virtually all of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security that the director general outlined at the beginning of the conflict,” reads the statement released by the IAEA.
Among the unfulfilled “indispensable pillars” are those related to the physical integrity of the nuclear power plant, the operation of safety and security systems, as well as the care of personnel and external power supplies.
Grossi reiterated his “grave concern” about the situation at the plant and urged the cessation of “any military action that endangers nuclear safety.”
He has also insisted on the need for an IAEA expert mission to go to the plant “as soon as possible” to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation.
The Zaporiyia facility was the target of an attack last week that severed part of the plant’s electrical connections and for which Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other. The Russian administration has confirmed that the damaged reactor units have been repaired and the plant is operating normally.
The Ukrainian authorities have warned this very Tuesday that the consequences of a hypothetical nuclear catastrophe in Zaporiyia would be up to ten times greater than those experienced by the Chernobyl accident.
At the beginning of March, the Russian Army took over the facilities of the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant, one of the largest in Europe, which in the early stages of the war was already the scene of intense clashes.