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Updated February 6th, 2024 at 18:24 IST

UN Nuclear Chief Warns Security ‘Fragile’ at Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Nuclear Power Plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi was in Ukraine for a visit to take stock of the nuclear plant staff situation.

Digital Desk
Russia Ukraine nuclear plant
A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in May. | Image:AP
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United Nations nuclear watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi, on Tuesday warned that the situation at the Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant “remains fragile” after the staff cuts enacted by Russian authorities that now control the facility.  Zaporizhzhya facility is among the 10 biggest atomic power plants in the world, and the largest in all of Europe.

The International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, who was in Ukraine for a visit, told the Associated Press in a statement, that his tour is aimed at assessing the overall impact of the staff reductions on the plant, after Russian authorities allegedly denied access to employees of Ukraine’s Energoatom to the plant.

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Only 2,000 of 20,000 staff members left

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant hosted as many as 12,000 staff members which have been reduced to a 2,000 sine Russia’s onslaught in neighbouring Ukraine began two years ago. Grossi warned that while the situation is “stable,” it is a “very, very delicate equilibrium,” the AP reported. “So this is why I need to see for myself what is the situation, what are the prospects in terms of staffing, medium-term and long-term as well,” he reportedly added.

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The fewer staff issue has been attributed to workers not willing to stay in the Russian controlled territories, whilst others were reluctant to work for Moscow. ”Some did continue working, and my Russian counterparts are telling me that they are signing up more and more people. So it's something that we need to check," said Grossi.

Since the war between Russia and Ukraine forces started in February 2022, IAEA chief has been warning about the looming nuclear catastrophe as much of the battles have been fought in the plant’s vicinity. At least six realtors of the nuclear plant have been switched off for several months but the IAEA has signalled that it is a disaster waiting to happen as the plant needs power as well as the qualified staff to operate critical functions such as ensuring cooling systems work, and other safety features are in place. The situation in Zaporizhzhia “continues to be fragile and it requires constant care,” Grossi was quoted as saying.

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Published February 6th, 2024 at 18:24 IST

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