Visit of UN Atomic Watchdog Chief to Ukraine Nuclear Plant Threatened by Russia’s War

by Madison Thomas
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nuclear safety

The leader of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, paid a visit to the largest atomic power plant in Europe on Thursday, located in southern Ukraine. The safety risks at the plant have escalated due to a recent dam burst and the commencement of a counteroffensive by Kyiv’s forces in the ongoing war with Russia.

The visit was announced by Energoatom, Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company, through a Telegram post.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the IAEA, had a meeting in Kyiv on Tuesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss concerns regarding the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is currently under Russian occupation.

The IAEA has repeatedly expressed apprehension about the facility, which ranks among the ten largest nuclear power plants globally, citing the potential risk of a nuclear catastrophe. The agency maintains officials at the plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel.

Since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022 and took control of the plant, it has been subject to frequent attacks.

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Concerns were compounded last week with the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the partially Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine. The dam, located downstream along the Dnieper River, played a vital role in maintaining water levels in a reservoir responsible for cooling the plant’s reactors.

While the plant’s six reactors have been inactive for several months, it still requires electricity and qualified personnel to operate critical cooling systems and other safety measures.

Ukraine has recently expressed its intention to initiate a cold shutdown of the last functioning reactor. This process involves inserting control rods into the reactor core to cease nuclear fission reactions and the generation of heat and pressure.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reported that intense fighting is taking place in certain sections of the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line in Ukraine, following Kyiv’s long-awaited launch of a counteroffensive, utilizing weaponry supplied by Western nations.

Stoltenberg stated that Ukrainian forces are gaining ground. However, Western analysts and military officials caution that driving Russian forces out of Ukraine may be a protracted endeavor.

According to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelenskyy, Ukraine has been testing Russian defenses and has not yet commenced a full-scale counteroffensive, as suggested in televised remarks.

Podolyak highlighted that Ukrainian troops are launching simultaneous attacks from various directions to instill panic among Russian forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported utilizing long-range air-launched cruise missiles to strike Ukrainian facilities involved in drone production. While claiming successful hits on all targeted facilities, no specific locations or additional details were disclosed.

It remains challenging to verify claims made by both sides regarding the situation on the battlefield.

Russian forces continue their aerial assaults on Ukraine, with the Ukrainian air force reporting the downing of four cruise missiles and 20 Iranian Sahed exploding drones during overnight attacks.

In the latest strike on the southeastern city of Kryvyi Rih, President Zelenskyy’s hometown, Russian missiles hit industrial facilities, resulting in one person being injured, according to local officials.

In the early hours of Thursday, an airstrike struck downtown Kherson city, creating a hole in an office building.

Drones launched by Russia also targeted Kharkiv and Odesa overnight, although regional authorities confirmed that all of them were successfully intercepted.

Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about nuclear safety

What is the purpose of the visit by the UN atomic watchdog chief to Ukraine’s nuclear plant?

The purpose of the visit by the UN atomic watchdog chief to Ukraine’s nuclear plant is to assess the safety risks and concerns associated with the plant, which has been threatened by the ongoing war with Russia. The visit aims to address the potential nuclear catastrophe and discuss measures to mitigate the risks.

What are the safety risks faced by Ukraine’s nuclear plant?

Ukraine’s nuclear plant faces safety risks due to the war with Russia. These risks have been heightened by a recent dam burst and the start of a counteroffensive by Kyiv’s forces. The plant requires functioning cooling systems, power supply, and qualified staff to ensure the safe operation of its reactors.

Why is the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant a cause for concern?

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is one of the largest nuclear power plants globally and is currently under Russian occupation. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly expressed alarm about the facility, citing fears of a potential nuclear catastrophe. The plant has been caught in the crossfire of the war, and its safety is a significant concern.

How is the ongoing war impacting Ukraine’s nuclear plant?

Since the war between Russia and Ukraine began, the nuclear plant has faced numerous challenges. The facility was seized by Russian forces shortly after the war started, and it has been subject to attacks and disruptions. The war has also created additional safety risks and intensified concerns about the plant’s ability to function safely.

What is the current situation on the front line in Ukraine?

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, fierce fighting is taking place on certain sections of the 1,000-kilometer front line in Ukraine. Kyiv’s forces have launched a counteroffensive using Western-supplied weapons, and while they are making gains, analysts and military officials caution that driving out Russian forces could be a long and challenging process.

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