Concerns about the safety of the facility increased following the Moscow-installed governor of the occupied Ukrainian area where the plant is located ordering civilian evacuations, including from the city where the majority of plant workers live.
Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been persuading Russian-occupied authorities to create a security perimeter around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to prevent radiation leaks during the conflict.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the pro-Russian governor of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, ordered evacuations over concerns that the violence might worsen. On Friday, Balitsky issued an order for residents of 18 Russian-occupied settlements, including Enerhodar, where the majority of the plant’s employees reside.
More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from two unnamed cities in the area, according to Balitsky. The evacuation of Enerhodar is underway, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
The plant was taken over by Moscow’s forces soon after they invaded Ukraine last year, but Ukrainian workers have continued to run it throughout the occupation, occasionally under great stress.
Russia has routinely fired Ukrainian-held settlements across the Dnieper River, while Ukraine has frequently fired at the Russian side of the lines. Fighting has gotten worse as Ukraine gets ready to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to retake territory that Russia has seized.
Russian soldiers fired more than 30 shells at the city of Nikopol, which is roughly 10 kilometers across the river from the facility. According to Ukrainian authorities, a 72-year-old lady was killed and three other people were injured.
Russia also has placed explosives near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant Unit 4 before avacuation. According to Grossi, the exodus of civilians implied a future escalation.
“The general situation in the area near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous,” Grossi warned Saturday.
“We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment. This major nuclear facility must be protected,” he said.
The station requires a dependable power source for cooling systems that are crucial to preventing a potentially catastrophic radiation disaster, even though none of the plant’s six reactors are operational as a result of the war.
Photo by AP