Zaporizhzhia: Worker wounded in new Russian shelling at nuclear plant, says Ukraine

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Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said on Sunday that a worker was wounded when Russian forces again shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday evening.

Radiation monitoring sensors were also damaged, Energoatom said. 

Rocket attacks struck the site of the plant’s dry storage facility, where 174 containers with spent nuclear fuel are stored in the open air, the company said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Zaporizhzhia plant was captured by Russian forces in the opening stage of the war but is still run by Ukrainian technicians.

The plant was also shelled on Friday, and Russia again blamed Ukraine for the fresh incident.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised grave concerns on Saturday about shelling the previous day at Zaporizhzhia, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, and warned of potential “nuclear disaster”.

“I’m extremely concerned by the shelling yesterday at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” Rafael Mariano Grossi wrote in a statement on the IAEA website.

“The IAEA has received information about this serious situation – the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports from all sides.”

Grossi repeated his appeal on Sunday for an IAEA team to travel to Zaporizhzhia. “This mission would play a crucial role in helping to stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there, as we have at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and elsewhere in Ukraine in recent months,” he said.

Friday’s shelling of a high-voltage power line at the nuclear facility prompted its operators to disconnect a reactor despite no radioactive leak being detected.

Both sides accused each other on Saturday of engaging in “nuclear terrorism”. Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom blamed Russia for the damage while Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned Russian military activities around the Zaporizhzhia plant as “a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms”.