(Kyiv) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned on Saturday of the risk of a “serious nuclear accident” at the Zaporizhia power plant, occupied by Russian forces in Ukraine, due to the evacuation of a nearby town where most of the employees live and the “potentially dangerous” situation around the site.
“The situation in the area near the Zaporijija nuclear power plant is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous,” warned Rafael Mariano Grossi, quoted in an IAEA statement.
“This large nuclear facility must be protected. I will continue to press for all parties to commit to this vital goal, and the IAEA will continue to do everything in its power to help ensure the nuclear safety and security of the plant,” said he declared.
Agency experts, who are in the area, are closely monitoring the situation to “detect any potential impact on nuclear safety and security,” Grossi said.
A concern shared by Ivan Fedorov, mayor of Melitopol, who estimated on Telegram that the “evacuation” announced by the Russian authorities was being done too quickly. Huge queues formed at the Chongar checkpoint on the road from Melitopol to Crimea, he said.
An evacuation of employees of the nuclear power plant, under Russian occupation and whose six reactors are shut down, is not currently planned, announced Saturday Yuri Tchernichuk, director of the site appointed by the Russian authorities.
On Friday, the regional manager installed by Moscow, Evgeny Balitsky, announced a partial evacuation of 18 localities under Russian occupation in the Zaporizhia region, in particular in Energodar.
These evacuations, “temporary” according to Mr. Balitski, primarily concern children with their parents, the elderly and disabled, hospital patients in the face of the multiplication, according to him, of Ukrainian bombardments in recent days.
Russian authorities plan to evacuate around 70,000 people from localities in the Zaporizhzhia region under Russian occupation, according to another official of the occupation administration, Andrei Kozenko, quoted by the TASS agency.
The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, controlled by the Russian army since March 2022, is located on the banks of the Dnieper River, which in this area separates the two camps. She was repeatedly shot at, raising fears of a disaster.