Shelling intensifies near Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, IAEA calls situation ‘fragile’

The nuclear plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, has emerged as a dangerous flashpoint amid the ongoing war. Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of risking a radiation catastrophe by attacking near the complex.

Intense shelling was reported on Wednesday in the towns of Kamenka-Dniprovska and Enerhodar, where Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is located, according to the Russia-installed governor of occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Governor Yevhen Balitsky urged residents not to go outside as massive bombardments took place in the area surrounding the facility, currently under Russian control.

The nuclear plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, has emerged as a dangerous flashpoint amid the ongoing war. Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of risking a radiation catastrophe by attacking near the complex.

In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency, Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), described the situation at Zaporizhzhia as “fragile” and “precarious” due to continued military activity.

He cited a recent incident in April when shelling damaged one of the plant’s reactors, calling it part of a “set of attacks” that prompted him to brief the UN Security Council.

Since Russian forces seized the plant last year, it has continually come under fire, though the extent and origins of the attacks remain disputed. Both Ukraine and Russia deny targeting the sensitive nuclear site.

The IAEA has a team of inspectors stationed at Zaporizhzhia to monitor safety systems. But Grossi stressed the precariousness of their mission amid the escalating combat surrounding the facility and repeated shelling placing it at risk.

Ukraine has accused Russia of deploying military equipment in the plant’s buildings and using it as a nuclear shield. Moscow claims Ukrainian forces are staging “provocations” and accuses them of the shelling.

The plant’s six reactors have been shut down due to safety threats, though they require power and staffing to maintain cooling and nuclear containment systems.

As fighting rages nearby, fears persist that a strike could trigger a catastrophic nuclear meltdown or radiation leak. Despite Grossi’s dire warnings, a resolution to safeguard Europe’s largest nuclear facility remains elusive.