The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was “serious” following the destruction of a dam, but was in the process of “stabilising”.
“On the one hand, the situation is serious, the consequences are there and they are real,” Director General Rafael Grossi told journalists during a visit to plant on Thursday. “At the same time, measures are being taken to stabilise the situation.”
Zaporizhzhia, which has been occupied by Russian forces since last year, and where the IAEA has a team of experts on site at all times, has been repeatedly targeted by bombardments since the Russian invasion began, and has been cut off from the electricity grid on several occasions, raising concerns about its safety.
One of the aims of Grossi’s visit – his third since the conflict began – was to determine the extent to which the facility has been endangered by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river last week.
Water from the dam’s reservoir is used to cool the six reactors, and the catastrophic flooding following the dam’s destruction has seen the supply sink alarmingly low. The plant’s last operating reactor was put into “cold shutdown” last week to minimise the risk of a disaster.
However, Grossi stated that the plant had “sufficient water” for the purposes of safety.
“I was able to see the cooling pond (…) the irrigation gates, the canals that make up the essential cooling system”, he added.
“It was very important for me to be able to make my own assessment of the situation with my experts.”