Watchdog warns Ukrainian nuclear plant ‘extremely vulnerable’

The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is “extremely vulnerable,” the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warns, as Moscow’s war on Ukraine continues to threaten conditions at the Zaporizhzhia site in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “lost all external electricity” on Monday for the seventh time since the start of Russia’s invasion on its neighbor, “forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators for power,” Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a tweet.

The “nuclear safety situation at the plant [is] extremely vulnerable. We must agree to protect [the] plant now; this situation cannot continue,” Grossi said.

The IAEA and others have long warned that Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine is a threat to safety and security and Zaporizhzhia, as the area around the plant has been battered by the conflict.

The plant’s six nuclear reactors have been shut down, but keeping cooling systems and other security measures up and running are crucial even when the reactors are off. Grossi and the IAEA have long pushed to establish a security zone around the plant to protect it from the war and lessen the chance of a radiation disaster.

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