The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said he is "very concerned" that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could be caught up in Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia.
The plant is very close to active fighting, "so we are worrying that there could be — I mean, obviously, mathematically — the possibilities of a hit,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said.
Speaking in Kyiv after a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Grossi said that the IAEA is trying to “prevent something bad” and that it is still a “relatively dangerous situation.”
Zelensky said they discussed ways to “minimize risks and prevent incidents.”
“The Head of State reiterated that the only way to prevent a nuclear incident at Zaporizhzhia NPP was its full demilitarisation, de-occupation and restoration of control over the plant by Ukraine,” according to a readout of the meeting from Zelensky’s office.
Ahead of his visit to the plant, the IAEA chief said that he will be at the facility for a few hours. There is a rotation of IAEA experts who are returning to Vienna and being replaced with a fresh group, he said.
“We are enlarging the team, so we are trying to make our process as visible, as impactful as possible to avoid a nuclear accident," he said.
On Sunday, the IAEA said it needed access to a location near the Zaporizhzhia plant to measure water levels at the Nova Kakhovka reservoir pumping position.
This is critical because the reservoir, which supplies cooling water to the nuclear plant and is crucial for its safety, lost a large portion of water after the dam collapsed last week. The IAEA said it will need to determine exactly how much water was lost.
Zelensky said he supported Grossi's proposal to send a group of IAEA experts to assess the consequences of the explosion of the Kakhovka dam “and prepare proposals for specific areas of assistance to overcome them.”