Team Led By IAEA Chief En Route To Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

Team Led By IAEA Chief En Route To Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said Monday that he is personally leading a team to inspect Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. He confirmed the UN-authorized team is currently en route following fresh shelling over the weekend.

The US and Western allies have called for a demilitarized zone around the plant, warning that a potential 'Chernobyl-like' disaster could occur if more isn't done to safeguard the nuclear reactors. The Russian side, which has had 500 troops occupying the plant since March, has rejected the idea of demilitarization - blaming Ukraine for ongoing shelling of the plant - while inviting in the IAEA-UN inspectors. 

Last Thursday the plant was disconnected from the power grid for the first time in its history, but hours later restored, whith safety backup measures kicking in, which also as a last resort includes large diesel generators. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed the Russians for shelling the last working powerline to the plant, which the Kremlin rejected. Other reports said a fire from a burn-pit was to blame.

The UN nuclear watchdog has long been warning over "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster" as the site risks becoming destabilized and with the systems that suppor the reactors being exposed to possible further damage from fighting.

As of Monday, Russia's RIA news is reporting that a Ukrainian missile has a struck the roof of a fuel depot at the Zaporizhzhia plant, however, at this early point the claim is unconfirmed. Additionally according to the latest:

LOCAL AUTHORITIES SAY SITUATION AT ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN UKRAINE IS UNDER CONTROL, RADIATION LEVEL IS NORMAL - RIA

As we detailed earlier, the Ukrainian operator of the plant Energoatom said in a Saturday Telegram post, "As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high." Energoatom has updated its alert to detail and allege the following

Nevertheless, "during the last day, the Russian military continued to fire at Energodar and the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," the agency said Monday morning.

Ten people were injured, including four plant workers, and as of 10:00 am (0700 GMT) the plant "operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards," Energoatom said on Telegram.

"The occupiers, preparing for the arrival of the IAEA mission, increased pressure on the personnel of the plant to prevent them from disclosing evidence of the occupiers' crimes at the plant and its use as a military base," it added. 

Meanwhile G7 countries have issued a statement demanding access to the plant "without impediment" for the UN-IAEA inspectors, saying that for the mission to be successful the team must "engage directly, and without interference, with the Ukrainian personnel responsible for operating these facilities."

Team Led By IAEA Chief En Route To Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant
Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, file image

The Ukrainian government has already accused Russian forces of seeking to orchestrate a cover-up, however. For example, one Ukrainian diplomat has told local media that Russia is "artificially creating all the conditions so that the mission will not reach the site."

The IAEA's Gross didn't indicate Monday the precise day his team hopes to arrive, but only said vaguely the ground mission is to begin "later this week."

(Article by Tyler Durden republished from Zerohedge.com)

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