Sep 9, 2022 - World

IAEA calls for security zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant near Enerhodar, Ukraine, in April 2022.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant near Enerhodar, Ukraine, in April 2022. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Friday called for a safety protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Driving the news: Grossi said shelling on Thursday cut the nuclear power plant off from its only reliable source of offsite power and left Enerhodar, the Ukrainian city nearby the plant, in a power blackout and without running water.

  • The shelling destroyed a switchyard to a thermal power facility in Enerhodar that the nuclear power plant was linked to as a source of offsite power.
  • With the alternative source of power gone, the plant's Ukrainian operators are considering shutting down its last operating reactor that's been supplying power for the facility and switching to diesel generators "for ensuring vital nuclear safety and security functions," Grossi said.

What they're saying: "Given the increased and continued shelling, there is little likelihood of re-establishing reliable offsite power to the ZNPP, especially as the shelling continually and repeatedly damages the power infrastructure," Grossi said.

  • "This is an unsustainable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious. Enerhodar has gone dark. The power plant has no offsite power. And we have seen that once infrastructure is repaired, it is damaged once again."
  • "I therefore urgently call for the immediate cessation of all shelling in the entire area. Only this will ensure the safety and security of operating staff and allow the durable restoration of power to Enerhodar and to the power plant."

Go deeper: Nuclear watchdog warns of possible disaster in Ukraine

Go deeper