Energy & Environment

Nuclear watchdog: There’s an ‘urgent’ need for measures to prevent accident at Ukraine plant

AP Photo/File
FILE – A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022. Ukrainians are once again anxious and alarmed about the fate of a nuclear power plant in a land that was home to the world’s worst atomic accident in 1986 at Chernobyl. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has been occupied by Russian forces and continued fighting nearby has heightened fears of a catastrophe that could affect nearby towns in southern Ukraine or beyond.

A global nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that there is an “urgent” need for interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident related to shelling near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a new report released on Tuesday, specifically called for an end to gunfire near the power plant and the establishment of a protection zone around it. 

“Pending the end of the conflict and re-establishment of stable conditions there is an urgent need for interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident arising from physical damage caused by military means,” the IAEA report said. 

“This can be achieved by the immediate establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone,” the agency continued. 

The IAEA noted in the report that some damage had already been caused to parts of the plant, and that ongoing shelling could have worse consequences, including the “unlimited release of radioactive materials to the environment.”

Exposure to very high levels of radiation can cause skin burns, nausea, vomiting and sometimes death in the short term. In the long term, it can cause cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Russia seized the Zaporizhia plant in March, around the start of its invasion of Ukraine. Recently, the IAEA warned of “renewed shelling” in the area, leading to concerns about a potential accident

Tags International Atomic Energy Agency Russia russian invasion of ukraine Ukraine Zaporizhzhia power plant

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