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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has warned that there is a "very real risk of a nuclear disaster" due to the situation around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine due to regular shelling.
In a tweet, Grossi said, "The @iaeaorg team must go to Zaporizhia just as we did to Chornobyl and South Ukraine earlier in the year. We can put together a safety, security and safeguards mission and deliver the indispensable assistance and impartial assessment that is needed."
The Zaporizhia nuclear plant is controlled by the Russian forces, which seized it in the early days of what Moscow calls a special military operation in Ukraine. Since then, Ukrainian agencies have accused the Russians of using Zaporizhia as a launchpad for shelling attacks on various targets.
Reporting on the IAEA's director general's warning, the BBC wrote that according to Ukrainian sources, there had been damage to some parts of the plant though not the reactors, including the plant's external power supply system.
There has been fighting with the Ukrainian forces over the nuclear plant since the Russian forces seized it.
"Military action jeopardising the safety and security of the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant is completely unacceptable and must be avoided at all cost," Grossi said.
"Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would amount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences," Grossi said.
"I strongly and urgently appeal to all parties to exercise the utmost restraint in the vicinity of this important nuclear facility, with its six reactors. And I condemn any violent acts carried out at or near the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant or against its staff."
The top IAEA official also said, "For the sake of protecting people in Ukraine and elsewhere from a potential nuclear accident, we must all set aside our differences and act, now. The IAEA is ready."
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.