Nuclear reactor close to ‘radiological disaster’, says Zelensky, amid calls for urgent UN visit | Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky said the world narrowly escaped a “radiological catastrophe” as the last regular electricity supply line to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine was restored hours after it was cut off by bombing.

The Ukrainian president said officials of the International Atomic energy The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the UN’s international atomic energy agency, must be granted urgent access to the site.

Zelensky blamed Thursday’s Russian military bombing for fires in ash pits at a nearby coal plant that disconnected the reactor complex, Europe’s largest, from the power grid. He said the standby diesel generators ensure the power supply and keep the plant safe.

“If our station personnel had not responded after the blackout, we would have already had to overcome the consequences of a radiological accident,” he said in an evening speech. Russia has put Ukraine And all Europeans are one step closer to a radioactive catastrophe.”

He said that IAEA officials should be allowed access to the site within days, “before the occupiers take the situation to the point of no return.”

Negotiations are underway for the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the site, and a senior Ukrainian nuclear official told the Guardian that IAEA inspectors may arrive by the end of the month.

Until then, continuing the fight puts the plant down, and possibly too much of it Europe, in danger. A nuclear accident could spread radiation across the continent.

Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatum said Thursday’s accident marked the plant’s first complete chapter in nearly 40 years of operation. Electricity is used for cooling and safety systems.

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Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, seized the plant in March and has controlled it ever since, although Ukrainian technicians still operate it.

Russia and Ukraine accused each other of bombing the site, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe. called the White House Russia by agreeing to a demilitarized zone around the plant, after Joe Biden spoke with Zelensky on Thursday.

The US State Department also warned Russia against redirecting energy from the site.

“The electricity it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine and any attempt to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid and redirect it to the occupied areas is unacceptable,” spokesman Vidant Patel told reporters. “No country should turn a nuclear power plant into an active war zone and we oppose any Russian efforts to arm or divert power from the plant.”

The IAEA said it was informed by Ukraine that the station had temporarily lost contact, “which underscores the urgent need for an IAEA mission of experts to travel to the facility.”

We cannot afford to lose any more time. “I am determined to personally lead the IAEA mission to the station in the next few days,” said the organization’s director general, Rafael Grossi.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russia-designated official in the occupied town of Innerhodar near the factory, said in Telegram that satellite images showed the local forest on fire. He said towns in the area had been without electricity for several hours on Thursday.

“The reason for this was the disconnection of the power lines from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant as a result of the provocations of Zelensky’s fighters,” Rogov claimed. “The disconnection itself was caused by a fire and a short circuit on the power lines.”

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Nuclear experts have warned of the dangers of damaging the station’s spent nuclear fuel pools or its reactors. Cutting off the power needed to cool the ponds could result in a catastrophic meltdown.

There have been increasing international concerns about Safety at Europe’s largest nuclear plant. It has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the war, and they are now using it to house military machinery and equipment.

The complex provides more than 20% of Ukraine’s electricity needs, and its loss will increase pressure on the government.

Energoatom’s president He told the Guardian newspaper On Wednesday, Russian engineers laid out a scheme to permanently disconnect the plant from the national grid and connect it to the Russian power grid instead. Petro Kotin said the plan was ostensibly aimed at preserving the power supply for the station if all communications with Ukraine were cut off due to the fighting, as happened Thursday. But Ukraine fears that Russia will deliberately cut the lines.

Russian and Ukrainian forces have come to a relative standstill in recent months, in part after the West introduced new long-range missiles that impeded Russian supply lines and their ability to continue their attacks. Ukraine also says it does not have the weapons it needs to launch a decisive counterattack.

With Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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