Ukraine: “The physical integrity” of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant “has been repeatedly violated”

VIENNA — Further damage to the beleaguered Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine “cannot” happen, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was speaking on Thursday after he and IAEA experts visited Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has seen repeated bombings in recent weeks, raising fears of a catastrophe.

“It is obvious that the factory and the physical integrity of the factory have been repeatedly violated. [Whether] Luckily [or deliberately], we do not have the elements to evaluate this. But it’s a reality that we have to acknowledge, and it’s something that can’t continue to happen,” he told reporters.

“Wherever you are, wherever you are, whatever you think about this war, it’s something that can’t happen, and that’s why we’re trying to put in some mechanisms and the presence of our people there. down, to try to be in a better place.”

The Zaporizhzhia power plant houses six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors. It has been occupied by Russian forces since the first weeks of the war in Ukraine, which is now in its seventh month.

Both sides accused the other of bombing the factory.

maintain a presence

A mission of experts from the IAEA finally arrived on the spot Thursday, after months of diplomatic negotiations.

In a video posted to his official Twitter account that day, Grossi reported that experts had made an initial visit to the factory, although there is still much to be done.

“My team remains,” he said, adding, “more importantly, we are establishing a continued IAEA presence here.”

The 14-member mission deployed from Vienna on Monday with the aim of ensuring the nuclear safety and security of the plant, undertaking vital safeguard activities and assessing the working conditions of Ukrainian personnel there.

A new bombardment last week affected the area of ​​the two so-called special buildings of the plant, located about a hundred meters from the reactor buildings, as well as an area of ​​a viaduct.

‘Code Red’

At a press conference he held on Friday evening, immediately after his return to Vienna, home of the IAEA, Grossi said the color coding of the degree of danger at the plant meant it was of a “big red code”.

“Why is it a big red? This is because we saw military activity around the factory and I and my team could see holes/impact marks on buildings, shelling, meaning the physical integrity of the facility has been violated not once, but multiple times.”

Regarding the safety and security system, “which is fully functional, we rate it with a yellow because some or most of them work, and have worked relatively well, but there had interruptions,” he told reporters. at Vienna airport.

‘Modus vivendi’

As for the operating conditions, where Ukrainians and Russians share the management of the plant, “we don’t put it completely on the red for one reason, and that is that the plant continues to operate and that it there is a professional ‘modus vivendi’. .they work together and the plant, as is obvious because it worked – two units, to this day, are still operating, including unit #5, which was packed a few days ago and which is now operational again. ”

He said that Zaporizhzhya, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, should also be considered a “large industrial facility, because in any industrial facility you need spare parts. There are things that need to be replaced and so on. Given the abnormal situation of the war, it is obvious that the supply chains are interrupted.

WHO donates ambulances to Ukraine

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered 11 first aid ambulances to Ukraine amid ongoing attacks on health care in the country, the UN agency reported on Friday.

The vehicles will be handed over to the emergency medical service in Lviv and then distributed throughout Ukraine.

The donations were made possible thanks to the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which ensures that emergency humanitarian aid reaches people caught in crises.

Rapid transport saves lives

“These ambulances will save lives and go a step further in ensuring that rapid access to emergency care during war is strengthened and maintained,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine.

He was speaking at a handover ceremony alongside Ukrainian Health Minister Dr Viktor Liashko, who stressed that international support is a powerful tool to sustain the country’s medical system in times of war.

“Rescuers are the first to arrive at the scene of an accident and do whatever they can to save people’s lives,” he said.

“Thanks to modern ambulances, healthcare workers not only ensure the rapid transport of injured or critically ill people from the scene of the accident to a medical facility, but also stabilize their condition during transport.”

WHO and partners have donated more than 30 ambulances to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health since the war began on February 24, with more deliveries expected later this year.

The agency has also delivered more than 1,300 tons of vital medical supplies to the country, including generators, oxygen supplies for medical facilities and drugs to help treat non-communicable diseases.

Winter support for vulnerable groups

Also Friday: A United Nations Humanitarian Fund has allocated $70 million to kick-start winter assistance and address the needs of people with disabilities, the elderly and vulnerable women in Ukraine.

“This is the Fund’s largest single allocation since its inception in 2019. Funding goes directly to local civil society organizations and frontline volunteer groups,” said Eri Kaneko, associate spokesperson for the Fund. United Nations, speaking to reporters in New York.

The Fund is managed by the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.

Some $118 million has been released so far this year to help five million people across Ukraine with food, water, shelter, health interventions and educational support. — UN News

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