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IAEA: Danger of nuclear accident in Zaporizhzhya has not been averted

Published October 06,2022

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said on Thursday that the danger of a catastrophic accident at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has not been averted.

"We are continually saying what needs to be done, which is basically: avoid a nuclear accident at the plant which is still a very, very clear possibility," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said during a visit to Kiev on Thursday.

The sprawling complex in south-eastern Ukraine has been the site of fierce fighting. Its last operating reactor was shut down in September but the risk of disaster remains as the atomic material still needs to be cooled to avoid a meltdown.

Grossi has been calling for a "safety and security zone" to be set around the nuclear plant, Europe's biggest, which remains staffed by Ukrainian workers. He said on Thursday that discussions with Kiev and Moscow continued.

The number of IAEA staff on the ground at Zaporizhzhya to help ensure its safety will be expanded from two to four, he said.

Grossi stressed that the IAEA does not comment on military matters. However, he said the annexation of the surrounding territory - and Russian nationalization of the nuclear plant - are illegal under international law. For the IAEA, Zaporizhzhya is a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, he said.