NewsRussian control of Europe's largest nuclear plant: IAEA chief warns of 'real' disaster potential

Russian control of Europe's largest nuclear plant: IAEA chief warns of 'real' disaster potential

The nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye, Ukraine
The nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye, Ukraine
Images source: © Getty Images | 2023 Anadolu Agency
3:30 AM EST, January 26, 2024

Zaporizhia, being the largest in Europe and one of the top 10 largest nuclear power plants in the world, came under Russian control after the war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Several months after the onset of Russian aggression, six reactors at the power station were deactivated – five of them remain in a so-called "cold mode," while one is operating in "hot mode."

However, deactivating the reactors does not mean that threats posed by the nuclear facility to the environment have been completely mitigated. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, conveyed this concern to the UN Security Council.

Grossi emphasized that "the power plant is operating with significantly fewer staff members, which is 'unsustainable', despite the deactivation of the reactors."

"Until now, the facility lost all external electricity in eight instances. It was necessary to rely on emergency diesel generators, the last defense against a nuclear disaster. They provide the required cooling for the reactor and spent fuel." Grossi, the head of the IAEA, reported.

IAEA head raises concerns over Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

As Anadolu Agency reported on Friday, Grossi reminded the Security Council that the safety of the nuclear plant's operation depends on the availability of external power supply. "While there hasn't been a nuclear accident so far, we still need to prepare for the worst-case scenarios. Self-complacency can lead us to catastrophe. We must do everything possible to minimize the risk", he stated.

Before addressing the Security Council, Grossi met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss "critical issues." The discussions included not only the state of nuclear safety in Ukraine but also concerns about weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Following the meeting, Grossi informed reporters at the UN headquarters in New York about his plans to visit Kyiv and Moscow soon. "I believe that's what's needed. We need diplomacy, effective diplomacy. This is what I am striving to achieve," he stated.

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