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IAEA: Shelling heard almost everyday near Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts currently at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant have heard shelling almost every day over the past week, the agency said in an update published on April 21.
The experts were told at one point to seek shelter on site due to the “potential dangers caused by continued military activity in the region,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.
“I saw clear indications of military preparations in the area when I visited the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant just over three weeks ago. Since then, our experts at the site have frequently reported about hearing detonations, at times suggesting intense shelling not far from the site,” Grossi said.
On March 29, Grossi made his second visit to the nuclear power plant to assess safety and security firsthand, speak with facility engineers, and ensure the rotation of IAEA experts to and from the site.
The director general also said in the update that he is continuing his efforts and negotiations with both Russia and Ukraine to protect the plant and avoid it being used to launch attacks.
Since Russian forces occupied the plant in March 2022, they have used it as a military base from which they launch attacks at Ukrainian-controlled territory across the Dnipro River, in particular, Nikopol.
The plant, Europe’s largest, has been fully disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid several times due to regular Russian attacks on the country's energy infrastructure. The power plant is also currently operating with only a quarter of its regular staff, causing concerns about maintenance.
The IAEA update comes amid increased checks on local residents in Enerhodar, the Russian-occupied city in Zaporizhzhia Oblast where the power plant is located, the Ukrainian military's National Resistance Center reported on April 21.
According to the center, Russian forces are stopping local residents more frequently at checkpoints and looking through their mobile phones for Ukrainian applications and at the photographs on their phones.