KYIV/VIENNA : The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tuesday for fighting to be halted in a security zone around Europe’s biggest nuclear power station, saying its experts had found extensive damage at the plant. A long-awaited report did not ascribe blame for damage to the Zaporozhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russia and Ukraine each accuse each other of shelling. But it called the situation unsustainable and said unless the shooting stops there would be a risk of disaster. The plant is controlled by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian technicians. It sits at the frontline on a Russian-held bank of a huge reservoir
with Ukrainian positions across the water.
“While the ongoing shelling has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security with potential impact on critical safety functions that may lead to radiological consequences with great safety significance,” the IAEA wrote. “The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities,” it said. “This requires agreementby all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone. ”
Inspectors said they had found Russian troops and equipment at the plant, including military vehicles parked in turbine halls. Moscow has denied accusations that it used the plant as a shield for its forces, but says it has troops guarding it. “Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian military occupation are under constant high stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available,” the IAEA report said. “This is not sustainable and could lead to increased human error with implications for nuclear safety. ” IAEA inspectors led by the agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, braved shelling to cross the front line and reach the power station last week. Two experts have stayed on to maintain a long-term presence.
Earlier on Tuesday, blasts rang out and power was cut in the city surrounding the plant, Enerhodar, according to Dmytro Orlov, the Ukrainian mayor who operates from outside Russian-held territory.