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Nuclear disaster fears as situation is 'serious' at Ukraine power plant after dam breach

NewsNuclear disaster fears as situation is 'serious' at Ukraine power plant after dam breach

The situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear site in Europe, is “serious”, the head of the UN atomic energy agency warned. Rafael Grossi inspected on Thursday the Ukrainian power plant, which has been in Russian hands since the early days of the illegal invasion. Mr Grossi, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited the plant in the wake of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, which was feeding water into the cooling pond adjacent to the site.

The expert didn’t hide how concerning the current situation is not just given the fighting taking place nearby but also following the loss of the reservoir linked to the dam.

As quoted by Russian news outlets, Mr Grossi said: “On the one hand, we can see that the situation is serious, the consequences [of the dam’s destruction] are there, and they are real.

“At the same time, there are measures that are being taken to stabilise the situation.”

The UN official also shared two video statements via Twitter following his visit, where he said the plant can be kept safe “for some time” given the current level of water available in the cooling pond.

Speaking about his third visit to the plant since the beginning of the war in February last year, he said: “We believe we have gathered a good amount of information for an assessment of the situation and we will continue permanently monitoring the situation there in order to help prevent a nuclear accident.”

The IAEA director general also showed viewers how close the “contact point” between Ukrainian and Russian forces is to the plant.

In a second video, the expert stood next to the cooling pond to show the water level.

He said: “One of the most serious consequences of the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam has been the decrease in the level of waters which is needed to cool the nuclear power plant behind me.

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“I’m here standing just at the intersection between the reservoir on my right and the river proper. And behind me, which you can see, is a cooling pond.

“Essential for the safety of this plant is that the water that you see behind me stays at that level.

“There is evaporation, there can be some leak, but it has to be maintained at that level.

“With the water that is here, the plant can be kept safe for some time.

“The plant is going to be working to replenish the water so that safety functions can continue normally.”

The six reactors at the station are in shutdown.

Mr Grossi’s trip to the plant was delayed by a day for security reasons as heavy fighting in the area carried on.

The official has been calling for an end to battles being carried out in the vicinity of the plant amid fears of catastrophic incidents, but earlier on Thursday conceded it was unrealistic to expect Moscow and Kyiv to sign a document on the site’s security while fighting raged nearby.

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