There are warnings over renewed shelling around the Zaporizhzhia region in Ukraine, where Europe’s largest nuclear plant is located. UN’s nuclear watchdog head has voiced extreme concern as Russian occupying forces begin evacuating residents from the area. They described conditions as increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous and called for immediate action to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident.
The announcement for evacuation came days ago and it happens ahead of a much-anticipated counter-offensive by the Ukrainian military. There is the latest warning from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raising concerns about the conditions at this nuclear facility.
Zaporizhzhia under Russian Occupation
This Zaporizhzhia region has been under Russian control since the war began. Even though the Ukrainian staff still operate this facility, there have been concerns about the conditions there at these nuclear facilities. Now this latest warning from Rafael Grossi, the IAEA Director General, called for measures to ensure the safety of this nuclear facility. He also said that the situation was increasingly tense, stressful, and challenging for the people operating this facility.
Despite the fact that the station’s six reactors are not in use due to the conflict, it still requires a dependable power source to run critical cooling systems that are necessary to avert a potentially disastrous radiation disaster.
Some analysts, even months ago had anticipated that the southern Zaporizhzhia region could be one of the potential targets of Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive. They believed that Kyiv’s forces might try to cut off Russia’s link to the Crimean Peninsula, which could cause a split in Russian forces by getting closer to the Azov Sea coast.
This morning there was an update from the Ukrainian mayor who described the situation in the town. He said that some busses have evacuated some residents. Residents are also leaving in their own vehicles, and petrol stations have run out of petrol because of this evacuation. But he also said that there was no information that people were forced to leave this city or not.
It’s incredibly difficult to get a clear picture of what’s happening in occupied parts of the country. This evacuation can give us an idea of what’s happening in those villages near the frontline where this evacuation is taking place. This is where the staff and their families live.
The Ukrainian staff is still out on their post. But over the last 15 months or so the number of Ukrainians working there has gone down. The workers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have described extremely difficult conditions there because Russian soldiers are controlling this facility.
Now there is a permanent mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency at this facility to monitor the situation there. But in this latest warning, Grossi has said that members of this mission haven’t been able to go to the town where many of these workers live, to get a sense of what was happening there, especially after this evacuation was announced. No one knows what is going to happen with the workers that still operate this facility and obviously their relatives.