Powerful explosions were recorded at the Zaporizhzhia Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Saturday night and on Sunday, shaking the area.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, more than a dozen blasts from apparent shelling caused damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment, but “none so far critical for nuclear safety.”
The UN Nuclear Energy watchdog condemned the incident, nonetheless. Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA, declared that “whoever is behind this…must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire.”
The agency has been greatly concerned with securing the site amid fears that conflict could cause a nuclear accident, stressing that the explosions were “completely unacceptable.”
this is europe’s largest nuclear plant in zaporizhzhia following overnight shelling — key infrastructure is damaged, iaea reports.
— вареничок.еріставі 🇺🇦🏳️🌈 (@maksymeristavi) November 20, 2022
Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on front line
IAEA is extremely apprehensive, as the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is on the front line of the war. Yet, in many instances, Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly traded blame for attacks.
Areas around the plant, including the nearby Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar, have regularly been assaulted for months. Still, there had been a period of calm before the new explosions of the past weekend.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, located in southeast Ukraine near the Dnipro River, is Europe’s largest nuclear power station and was overrun by Russian forces a few weeks after Moscow invaded the country on February 24, 2022.
Russia annexed the Zaporizhzhia region and another Ukrainian territory in September. They were then pushed back on the battlefield in the south, notably in the Kherson region, leaving the two armies facing each other across the river.
Russia and Ukraine criticize each other for explosions
Earlier, Russian media had claimed that Ukraine had fired at least fifteen projectiles at the plant, which landed near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses freshly spent nuclear fuel.
Furthermore, the country’s military accused Ukrainian forces on the other side of the river of shelling the area under its control—an allegation to which Ukraine has yet to respond.
Ukraine itself had previously suggested that Russian forces were responsible for shelling the area themselves despite their own troops being placed there. Soon after Russia’s accusations, Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, made the same declaration.
Energoatom said the bombardment had resulted in twelve hits to Zaporizhzhia’s infrastructure, adding that the list of damaged equipment indicated that the attackers “targeted and disabled exactly the infrastructure that was necessary for the restart of 5th and 6th power units” and the restoration of power production for Ukrainian needs.
Grossi called once again for the two warring sides to agree as well as implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the plant as soon as possible.
“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality,” he said. “As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever.”