Attacks on Zaporizhia nuclear power plant significantly increase risk of accidents, says IAEA director

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The head of the UN atomic monitoring agency condemned a drone attack on one of six nuclear reactors at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

In statements to the social network “This can’t happen,” he said.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack, but the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency did not assign blame. Kyiv officials had no immediate comment.

He said it was the first attack of its kind since November 2022, when it established five basic principles to avoid a serious nuclear accident with radiological consequences.

Plant officials said the site came under attack on Sunday by Ukrainian military drones, including an attack on the dome of the plant’s sixth power unit.

According to plant authorities, there was no critical damage or casualties and radiation levels at the plant were normal after the attacks. However, later on Sunday, Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom said three people were injured in the “unprecedented series of drone attacks,” specifically when a drone hit an area near the site’s canteen.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Sunday that its experts had been informed of the drone attack and that “such a detonation is consistent with IAEA observations.”

In a separate statement, the IAEA confirmed the physical impact of the drone attacks on the plant, including one of its six reactors. One victim was reported, he said.

“The damage to unit 6 has not compromised nuclear safety, but this is a serious incident that may undermine the integrity of the reactor containment system,” he added.

The power plant has been caught in the crossfire since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine in 2022 and seized the facility shortly after. The IAEA has repeatedly expressed alarm about the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, amid fears of a possible nuclear catastrophe. Both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of attacking the plant, which is still located near the front lines.

The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified personnel to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety measures.

Also on Sunday, three people were killed when their home was hit by a Russian projectile in the town of Huliaipole in the partially occupied Zaporizhzhia region of southeastern Ukraine, regional governor Ivan Fedorov said. Later on Sunday, two people were injured in another shelling over Huliaipole.

Separately, three people were injured in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, according to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov.

In Russia, a girl was killed and four other people were injured when debris from a downed Ukrainian drone fell on a car carrying a family of six in Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine, regional governor Vyacheslav said. Gladkov.


This story has been corrected to remove reference to the drone strike launched by Ukraine. Russian officials have claimed that, but Ukraine had no comment.

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