VIENA.- Ucrania ha informado al OIEA sobre nuevos bombardeos en la planta nuclear de Zaporiyia, los más recientes el sábado, sin que se produjera un aumento de los niveles de radiación en el lugar, aseguró este domingo la agencia nuclear de la ONU en un comunicado emitido en Viena.
Según el director general del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica (OIEA), Rafael Grossi, todos los sistemas de seguridad siguen funcionando en la central, la mayor de Europa.
Los bombardeos se produjeron el jueves, viernes y ayer sábado, aunque Ucrania aún no dispone de información completa sobre la naturaleza de los daños, destacó el jefe del OIEA.
Según las informaciones recibidas desde Ucrania, la planta tiene acceso a la electricidad después de que la central perdiera el jueves temporalmente la conexión con la última línea eléctrica externa de 750 kilovoltios.
Las dos unidades del reactor que se desconectaron entonces de la red eléctrica vuelven a operar de nuevo tras ser conectadas el viernes.
Los bombardeos afectaron a la zona de los dos denominados «edificios especiales» de la central, situados a unos cien metros de los edificios del reactor.
Allí se encuentran plantas de tratamiento de agua, talleres de reparación de equipos e instalaciones de gestión de residuos.
Todas las mediciones de la radiactividad están dentro de lo normal y no hay indicios de ninguna fuga de hidrógeno, aseguró Grossi, citando informaciones recibidas desde Ucrania.
El director general destacó en su nota que los incidentes de esta semana ponen de manifiesto una vez más el riesgo de un posible accidente nuclear en esta planta, controlada por Rusia desde marzo pero operada por el personal ucraniano.
Grossi dijo que continúa sus consultas con todas las partes con el objetivo de enviar una misión de expertos del OIEA a la planta en los próximos días para ayudar a garantizar la seguridad nuclear en el lugar.
La misión evaluará los daños físicos sufridos, determinará si los sistemas de seguridad y protección funcionan y evaluará las condiciones de trabajo del personal.
Fresh shelling at Ukraine nuclear plant sparks radiation fears
Ukraine and Russia traded fresh accusations of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday, as its operator warned of the risk of a radioactive leak.
The Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian troops since early March.
Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly accused each other of rocket attacks in the vicinity of the plant — Europe’s largest — located in the city of Energodar.
On Saturday, its Ukraine operator Energoatom said Russian troops had “repeatedly shelled” it over the past day.
“As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high,” Energoatom said on Telegram.
The agency said that as of midday Saturday (0900 GMT), the plant “operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards”.
Russia’s defense ministry however said Ukrainian forces had “shelled the territory of the station three times” from the town of Marganets across the Dnipro River.
The ministry accused Kyiv of “nuclear terrorism” and said shells had landed near areas storing fresh nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.
Radiation levels at the plant “remain normal”, said the ministry statement.
On Tuesday residents in Khortytskyi district — 45 kilometers (29 miles) north-east from the power plant — were given iodine pills to reduce radiation risk in case of a leak.
Residents closer to the plant told AFP earlier this month that they had received iodine pills at the very start of the war.
- Power out –
On Thursday, the Zaporizhzhia plant was cut off from Ukraine’s national power grid for the first time in its four-decade history due to “actions of the invaders”, Energoatom said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the power cut was caused by Russian shelling of the last active power line linking the plant to the network.
It came back online on Friday afternoon, but Zelensky warned “the worst-case scenario … is constantly being provoked by Russian forces”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is urging for a mission to the plant “as soon as possible to help stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there”.
Agency head Rafael Mariano Grossi has said he wants to visit the site within days, warning of potential disaster.
Ukraine energy minister adviser Lana Zerkal said an IAEA inspection “is planned for the next week”.
But Zerkal told Ukraine’s Radio NV late Thursday she was sceptical the mission would go ahead, despite Moscow’s formal agreement, as “they are artificially creating all the conditions so that the mission will not reach the site”.
- Diverting energy –
Britain’s defense ministry said satellite imagery showed an increased presence of Russian troops at the power plant with armored personnel carriers deployed within 60 meters (200 feet) of one reactor.
Kyiv suspects Moscow intends to divert power from the Zaporizhzhia plant to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014. Washington has warned against any such move.
“The electricity that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters, saying attempts to redirect power to occupied areas were “unacceptable”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which this week entered its seventh month — has also prompted a wider global energy crisis.
Anxiety over gas and oil supply has sent prices soaring.
Meanwhile the EU — which declares itself a staunch ally of Ukraine — has vowed to wean its 27 member states off Russian energy to protest the nation’s attack on its neighbor.
On Friday both Germany and France reported that they expected electricity prices next year to increase tenfold over those this year.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire pledged on Saturday to keep electricity costs in check.
Paris has put in place an energy price cap to shield households until December 31 and Le Maire said that next year’s expected hikes would be “contained increases”.
The EU presidency has said it will hold an emergency summit to address the crisis as the winter months approach.
Britain announced Saturday it would give six underwater drones to Ukraine to help it clear their coastline of Russian mines and that it was training Ukrainians to use them.
“Russia’s cynical attempts to hold the world’s food supply to ransom must not be allowed to succeed,” said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
The Royal Navy is also training Ukrainian sailors to operate Sandown Class Minehunter vessels, said a British defense ministry statement.
Also Saturday, Russia published a decree that makes it easier for Ukrainian citizens to live and work in Russia by scrapping work permits and allowing indefinite residency.
Moscow says 3.6 million Ukrainian nationals, including 587,000 children, have come to Russia since the start of the offensive in late February.