Russia’s war in Ukraine

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A Russian military truck is seen on the grounds of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on March 29.
A Russian military truck is seen on the grounds of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on March 29. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images/FILE)

International Atomic Energy Agency experts at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have heard shelling nearly every day over the past week, the agency said in an update on Friday. 

At one point, they were told to shelter at the site because of the potential dangers, according to an update from IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.

“I saw clear indications of military preparations in the area when I visited the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant just over three weeks ago. Since then, our experts at the site have frequently reported about hearing detonations, at times suggesting intense shelling not far from the site. I’m deeply concerned about the situation at the plant,” Grossi said.

The plant still relies on one functioning power line “for the external electricity it needs for reactors cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions,” Grossi added. Prior to the war, the plant had four such power lines.

In addition, due to the “significant reduction” of staff at the site, the plant “currently does not have a systematic maintenance and in-service inspection schedule,” Grossi said.

Some background: Russian forces continue to control the plant, which is the largest nuclear power station in Europe and sits in a part of the Zaporizhzhia region that Russia occupied after its invasion of Ukraine last February. The plant has frequently been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid due to intense Russian shelling in the area, raising fears across Europe of a nuclear accident.

The IAEA announced in January that it would establish a continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities, significantly stepping up its efforts to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current military conflict.

This week, CNN viewed a letter dated from March that the US Department of Energy sent to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm Rosatom, warning Russia not to touch sensitive nuclear technology the US has at the plant.

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