Europes largest nuclear power plant ‘out of control’, says atomic energy boss

The situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power station “is completely out of control,” says the the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA].

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility is dangerously close to the front line between opposing Russian and Ukrainian forces, with the occupying Russian forces using the plant to store their heavy weapons.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that the Russians were using the plant as a military base to launch attacks on Ukrainian forces.

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The Russian military have turned the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant into a “nuclear shield,” reports Ukrainian news site Euromaidan Press.

At a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York, IAEA boss Rafael Grossi said: "The situation is very fragile. Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated one way or the other and we cannot allow that to continue.”

He expressed concern that, while Ukrainian workers were still being allowed to administer the day-to-day running of the plant, “patchy” communications were making it impossible to assess safety conditions there.

Mr Grossi says the IAEA urgently needs to check on conditions at Zaporizhzhia, The Independent reports. “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated,” he said.

He added: “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”

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Mr Grossi warns that the power plant is undergoing a “catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility” and begged for both sides to cease fire to allow an IAEA inspection team to check on the status of the reactor.

“I’m pleading,” he said, “as an international civil servant, as the head of an international organisation, I’m pleading to both sides to let this mission proceed.”

An administrative building was damaged when the Russians took possession of the plant in March, but the reactors were not thought to have been damaged.

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After Russian forces retreated from the decommissioned nuclear plant at Chernobyl, returning Ukrainian troops found chaotic scenes.

The Russian had looted vast amounts of safety equipment including 344 vehicles, 1,500 radiation dosimeters, nearly 700 computers and almost every piece of firefighting equipment.

Leonid Bohdan, head of the spectrometry and radiochemistry labs at Chernobyl, told the Washington Post: “I’ve been working here since May 1, 1986, and everything that I was working on for 30 years was spoiled and plundered.”

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