Mar 6, 2022 - World

Watchdog: Staff at Ukraine nuclear plant under Russian command

Rafael Grossi points on a map of the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi points on a map of the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a special press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on March 4. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

Russia has placed the staff at a Ukrainian nuclear plant under its direct command and restricted workers' ability to communicate with the outside world, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement Sunday.

Driving the news: Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southeastern Ukraine — the largest in Europe — earlier this week, after shelling the plant and igniting a fire at the site.

State of play: Staff at the plant are now under Russian command and any actions taken by plant management, including "measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units," must be approved ahead of time by the Russian commander, per the statement.

  • "In a second serious development, Ukraine has reported that the Russian forces at the site have switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication," it added.
  • The IAEA noted that it had received confirmation from Ukraine's nuclear regulator that it was having "major problems" communicating with staff at the Zaporizhzhya plant.

What they're saying: “I’m extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today," Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, said in the statement.

  • "In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure,” Grossi added.

Go deeper: Dashboard: Russian invasion of Ukraine

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