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IAEA demands creation of nuclear safety zone around Zaporizhzhia

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommended, after its recent visit to the Ukrainian atomic power plant in Zaporizhzhia, that a safety zone be established around the plant and that the bombings be stopped immediately to avoid a possible radioactive disaster.

“This requires an agreement by all parties for the establishment of a nuclear safety and protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”, states the report of the UN nuclear agency, released on Tuesday.

Zaporizhzhia, occupied by Russian forces and disconnected from the Ukrainian network since Monday afternoon (5), is the scene of bombings for which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other which have been posing a risk of nuclear disaster for months.

“The current situation is unsustainable and the best measure to guarantee the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and its population would be for this armed conflict to end now”, adds the document of 52 pages.

The IAEA lists seven specific recommendations to avoid the risks of a nuclear disaster at the plant, the largest in Europe with its six reactors, and the establishment of this safety zone is the first of them.

“Although the ongoing bombing has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to pose an ongoing threat to nuclear safety,” warns the report.

The director- General of the IAEA, the Argentine Rafael Grossi, will present the conclusions of the document later this Tuesday at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

In addition to the security recommendations, the document confirms the presence of Russian military material inside the plant and the presence of personnel from the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, something criticized by the IAEA.

“The team observed the presence of Russian military, vehicles and equipment in several sites of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, including several military trucks on the ground floor of the turbine halls of unit (reactor) 1 and unit (reactor) 2”, details the UN body.

Nuclear inspectors ask that this military equipment be removed because it interferes with possible safety operations at the plant and these spaces were not designed for military use.

The IAEA also criticizes the presence of personnel from Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, for interfering with “normal lines of command or operational authority and creating potential friction with decision-making.”

The report also shows concern about the deterioration of various elements of the plant and the technical difficulty in repairing them.

“The team witnessed that several electrical equipment in the apron area was damaged due to the recent bombings and that the repairs of some of this equipment would take a long time, since the spare parts are custom-made”, notes the document.

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