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Ukraine: Drone attack damages Zaporizhzhia power plant

Nuclear watchdog the IAEA says building housing reactor sustained damage after three direct hits but safety was not compromised. Moscow and Kyiv have each blamed one another for the attack.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s nuclear energy watchdog, reported Sunday that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine had sustained damage in a drone attack.

Announcing the incident on social media, the IAEA said on X: “One casualty reported. Damage at unit 6 has not compromised nuclear safety, but this is a serious incident w/ potential to undermine integrity of the reactor’s containment system.”

IAEA boss Rafael Grossi said the structure, which contains one of the facility’s six nuclear reactors, had taken three “direct hits.”

Russia, Ukraine trade blame for attack

Officials at the Russian-controlled facility claimed Ukraine was responsible for the attack, with drones hitting the dome of the facility’s sixth power unit.

Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear agency said three people were wounded in what it called an “unprecedented series of drone attacks,” claiming that one of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) struck near the facility’s canteen.

A Ukrainian intelligence official quoted by Reuters news agency denied the Russian accusation, saying: “Ukraine is not involved in any kind of armed provocations on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant illegally occupied by Russia.”

“Russian strikes, including imitation ones, on the territory of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant… have long been a well known criminal practice of the invaders,” the Ukrainian official added. 

IAEA head Grossi wrote on X, “no one can conceivably benefit or get any military or political advantage from attacks against nuclear facilities. This is a no go.”

Grossi, who said such attacks “significantly increase the risk of a major nuclear accident,” urged both Ukraine and Russia to refrain from engaging in actions that could jeopardize nuclear safety.

Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant caught in war’s crossfire

Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has been caught up in the crossfire of the war since Russia took control of it in early 2022, just after invading Ukraine. 

The IAEA immediately sounded the alarm and warned of the very real prospect of a massive nuclear catastrophe as fighting raged near the site.

This remains the case today as the site is still dangerously close to the front lines of a war now in its third year. 

Both Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly accused one another of attacking the facility.

Although Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors have been shut down for months, it still needs power from generators to operate cooling systems and key safety features. 

Plant authorities on Sunday said that radiation levels remained normal after the attack.

Source: Dw

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