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IAEA: Situation 'precarious' after multiple explosions near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

by Abbey Fenbert August 23, 2023 12:52 AM 2 min read
A view of the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as seen from Nikopol, across the Dnipro River. (Photo by Dmytro Smolienko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Military operations near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, including multiple explosions in the past week, pose an ongoing nuclear security risk, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Aug. 22.

IAEA experts reported five detonations in the area on Aug. 20 and five more on Aug. 21.

"The overall nuclear safety and security situation remains precarious,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The agency's representatives also described an Aug. 14 explosion that was so strong it "shook their windows." This was followed by sounds of gunfire on Aug. 16. Another explosion occurred near the plant on Aug. 17.

The report also mentioned an Aug. 18 explosion in nearby Enerhodar, where most plant personnel live.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Europe's largest nuclear plant, has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022. It stands on the front lines of Russia's war against Ukraine, where daily shelling is routine.

The Russian military's demolition of the Kakhovka dam on June 6 put the integrity of the ZNPP at further risk. The Zaporizhzhia plant relies on water from the Kakhovka Reservoir to cool its six reactors.

The IAEA report said the ZNPP is planning to build up to a dozen wells around the site and has already successfully begun pumping water from a new groundwater well. According to the report, the ZNPP has enough cooling water "for many months."

However, Grossi made it clear that these solutions are not sufficient.

"This is vital work," Grossi said. "But the real solution is for the conflict to end."

On the edge of disaster: What could really happen if Russia destroys Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
In late June, 16 months into the full-scale Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky alerted his nation of an unprecedented threat. Russia, the president said, had rigged the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with explosives, and was ready to set off the charges and cause radiation to…

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