The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned on Tuesday from Dnipro that military activity around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “is increasing”.
“There is an increasing number of troops and military vehicles, heavy artillery and more military action around the plant,” he said. Rafael Grossidirector of the IAEA, in an interview with the chain CNNadding that the plant has been experiencing blackouts “repeatedly”.
Thus, he pointed out that “in a few hours” both he and his team will cross “the front line”just like they did last year.
“I am going to continue with my consultations to try to establish protection around the plant and avoid a nuclear accident with possible catastrophic consequences,” he said.
The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenskyvisited positions near the combat front in the Zaporizhzhia region on Monday and was also able to meet with Grossi, with whom he also shared the situation of the Dnieper hydroelectric power station.
It will be the second time that the organization’s director general -accompanied by a group of experts, the seventh of its kind since the support mission began working at the plant-, will visit the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the first since the deployment of the permanent presence of the IAEA, on September 1.
Grossi pointed out over the weekend that his trip also seeks to ensure a regular rotation of IAEA experts to and from the plant after the problems that affected the February rotation, delayed almost a month.
The agency’s missions have helped provide objective information from inside the plant, although the previous rotation was delayed because Russia prevented experts from leaving for three weeks, citing security problems.
Unlike the IAEA experts, who can get out, thousands of Ukrainian staff at the plant are being held hostage by the Russian occupiers, he told the agency. EFE Olga Kosharnaexpert and former board member of the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukrainewho assured that many of them are simply prevented from leaving the energodarwhere the plant is located.
“One of them tried to get out through the Crimea and has disappeared,” said Kosharna, who is keeping in touch with some of the staff. She also said that his contacts delete the messages from their phones, since they have them controlled all the time and fear reprisals for communicating.
“The number of Russian troops at the plant has increased. Anti-aircraft defense systems have been installed and a unit of the “Kadyrovtsy”, the Chechen fighters led by Ramzan Kadyrovloyal to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” he added.
Since the occupation began, some of the equipment from the state-of-the-art facilities has disappeared, which will probably be used in Russian nuclear power plants, according to Kosharna.
The expert reported that the staff is harassed and is under pressure to sign contracts with an entity created by Russia to gain control of the plant. The intimidation ranges from threats of physical violence to threats against their families.
Some did not sign those contracts, but Russia has no choice but to let them continue working, since they do not have the capabilities to replace all of them with their own specialists.
(With information from Europa Press and EFE)
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