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Nuclear watchdog says 'no immediate risk' to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant after dam blast

07.06.2023 10:00
The global nuclear watchdog has said that the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine posed "no immediate risk" to the safety of the nearby Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to news reports on Wednesday.
The Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).Photo: PAP/DPA/Daniel Kalker

The major Soviet-era dam in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region was blown up by Russian forces in the early hours of Tuesday, causing massive flooding in vast areas along the Dnieper River, according to Ukrainian officials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that the drop in the water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir after the blast should not affect the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), according to the Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank.

The Washington-based think tank cited IAEA Director Rafael Grossi as saying that the falling water level posed “no immediate risk to the safety of the plant” and that IAEA personnel at the ZNPP were closely monitoring the situation.

Grossi stated that the ZNPP was pumping water into its cooling channels and related systems, and that a large cooling pond next to the plant would be ”sufficient to provide water for cooling for some months,” the ISW said in its latest analysis of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

'No short-term risk to nuclear safety and security'

"The water level in the reservoir that is supplying Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has been falling throughout the day, but the facility has back-up options available and there is no short-term risk to nuclear safety and security," Grossi said in a statement on Tuesday.

He added, as quoted on the iaea.org website: “There is a preparedness for events like this at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, which will help staff to handle this new challenging situation. But, clearly, this is making an already very difficult and unpredictable nuclear safety and security situation even more so."

Grossi announced that he would "lead another IAEA rotation next week" to "assess the situation and address the current and planned measures with the plant management."

'Large-scale consequences of Russian act of terrorism': Ukraine's Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet: "In a phone call, I informed IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi about the large-scale consequences of the Russian act of terrorism at the Kakhovka HPP dam. We discussed ways to minimize risks to ZNPP security. Agreed on Mr. Grossi's visit to Ukraine."

The dam's reservoir provided water used for the cooling of the six reactors at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the Reuters news agency reported.

A flooded street in Kherson, Ukraine, June 6, 2023. A flooded street in Kherson, Ukraine, June 6, 2023. Photo: EPA/IVAN ANTYPENKO

The IAEA is an autonomous international organization within the United Nations system that aims to coordinate “all activities related to the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology,” according to the Polish foreign ministry.

The organization was established in 1957, with Poland as one of its founding members.


Source: PAP, Reuters, understandingwar.org, iaea.org, ukrinform.net

Click on the audio player above for a report by Halyna Pastushuk.