The team led by Rafael Grossi advances in its goal of inspecting the nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian city on a day where the bombings in the vicinity intensified, with cross accusations between kyiv and Moscow. Three people were killed at Energodar, where the plant is located, by Ukrainian artillery and one of the reactors had to be shut down as a precaution.
This Thursday, September 1, the team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that arrived yesterday in the city of Zaporizhia headed for the plant located in Energodar in a setting where dangerous attacks have been recorded in recent hours and when the conditions to move were “minimal”.
The agency’s director, Rafael Grossi, confirmed that they will continue with their mission “despite the increase in military activity” and the delays that have occurred.
The plans mainly include dialogue with local operators, who are under tense and stressful conditions.
“After we’ve come this far, we’re not going to stop. We are going to move, we know that there is an area, the so-called ‘grey zone’, between the last line of Ukraine and the first line of Russia, where the risks are significant”, affirmed the Argentine.
Despite the attacks, Moscow maintains that the situation is under control
However, during the first hours, heavy bombardments were reported in areas near the nuclear facilities.
In Energodar, the town that hosts the Zaporizhia plant, at least three people were killed by “massive” Ukrainian artillery fire in the early hours of the morning, the pro-Russian administration said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense denounced that “four projectiles exploded at a distance of 400 meters from the first reactor” with the aim of “interrupting the arrival of the IAEA”.
Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the military portfolio, reported that two sabotage groups from kyiv had been intercepted three kilometers from the nuclear plant. In turn, they stressed that the situation “is complicated, but it is under control.”
In the same vein, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared this Wednesday during an event in the Russian capital. There, the diplomat ratified that his country is doing everything possible to “guarantee safe operation” in Zaporizhia.
⚡ IAEA’s Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) led by CEO @RafaelMGrossi has just arrived at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to conduct indispensable nuclear safety and security and safeguards activities.
— IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) September 1, 2022
In return, the Ukrainian state company, Energoatom, reported that one of the reactors was disconnected “as a result of another mortar bombardment by the Russian occupation forces”, activating the emergency protocol.
The company added that the auxiliary backup power supply line, used for internal needs of the facilities, was also damaged, causing another unit to temporarily shut down.
“This is the second time in the last 10 days that the criminal actions of the Russian military have led to the closure of the unit and the blackout of the power plant,” Energoatom stressed.
Given this context, the Red Cross urged both sides to stop military operations before there are “catastrophic” consequences.
“It is time to stop playing with fire and take concrete steps to protect this facility,” said Robert Mardini, ICRC Director General.
“The slightest miscalculation could unleash devastation that we will regret for decades to come,” he added.
With EFE, AFP and Reuters