IAEA Chief: Inspectors will stay in Zaporizhzhia plant

Rafael Grossi, IAEA chief, talked to media after leading a group of nuclear inspectors to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeast Ukraine.

According to Grossi, he was permitted to tour the whole facility and visit important locations including the control rooms and emergency systems. In order to complete its examination of worrying technical aspects, his team would now need to put in a lot of work.

“We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there, it is at the plant and it is not moving – it’s going to stay there,” Grossi stated after what he described as a long day. He appeared exhausted.

The IAEA chief said members of his team would stay at the plant to provide an impartial, technical assessment of what is happening on the ground. They would dig deeper into conditions and deliver a report.

“It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant have been violated, several times … This is something that cannot continue to happen,” he said.

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‘Hugely beneficial’

A long-term or permanent presence by IAEA nuclear inspectors at the Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine “would be hugely beneficial” in terms of easing fears of a nuclear incident, says Dr Ross Peel, a nuclear expert at King’s College London.

Such a presence “would allow constant monitoring of conditions at the plant, real independent evidence coming out constantly about what is going on there,” he told FRANCE 24, noting that “disinformation and misinformation have played a huge role so far in this conflict”.

“Shelling near any nuclear site is obviously a grave concern and we should be avoiding that whenever possible,” Dr Peel said. “Even when shells are targeted away from critical systems, things can go off target.”

The nuclear expert said IAEA inspectors would be looking to determine “what the conditions have been for workers at the plant” and whether they have been able “to perform their duties safely”.

He added: “I expect they will find signs of several damage to the plant and its systems but hopefully (the damage) can be addressed.”