Anxiety as Russia, Ukraine trade blames over Zaporizhzhia

Anxiety as Russia, Ukraine trade Blames over Zaporizhzhia File Picture of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has come under Ukrainian shelling, but no radiation leak has been detected.

Adviser Renat Karchaa said the shells had been fired near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses recently spent nuclear fuel, Russian news agency TASS reported.

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The facility was occupied by Russian forces soon after the war began. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling at the site that has damaged buildings and threatened a nuclear accident.

Powerful explosions have rocked the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also confirmed.

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The IAEA said “In what appeared to be renewed shelling both close to and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts at the ZNPP reported to Agency headquarters that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time,” the IAEA said in a statement.

The IAEA team could see some of the explosions from their windows, the statement added, but the damage so far has not been critical for nuclear safety and security.

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IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi has expressed concern over the renewal of hostilities around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site.

“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing,” Grossi said in a statement. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”,

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He added that the agency’s experts were in close contact with site management and will continue to assess and report on the situation.

Russia has however accused Ukraine of shelling the plant, which it occupied soon after the invasion began on February 24.

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Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukraine of firing shells at power lines supplying Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Russian news agencies reported.

The defence ministry was quoted as saying that damage at the nuclear plant will be investigated by experts from the IAEA and state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom.

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The Russian army has accused Kyiv of staging a “provocation” by shelling the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that is under its control in southern Ukraine.

Kyiv “does not stop its provocations aiming at creating the threat of a man-made catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”, it said in a statement.

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Despite shelling on November 19 and 20, radiation levels “remain normal”, it added.

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