Attacks on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant significantly increase accident risk, IAEA chief says

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has condemned a drone attack on one of the six reactors at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled Ukraine.

In a statement on social media platform X, Raffaele Mariano Grassi confirmed at least three direct hits against the ZNPP main reactor control structures. “This can't happen,” he said.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack, but the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency did not. Kiv officials had no immediate comment.

He said it was the first such attack since November 2022, when he laid out five basic principles to avoid a serious nuclear accident with radioactive consequences.

Plant officials said the site was attacked Sunday by Ukrainian military drones, including an attack on the dome of the plant's sixth power unit.

According to plant officials, there were no serious damage or casualties at the plant after the strikes and radiation levels remained normal. However, late on Sunday, Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom said three people had been injured in an “unprecedented series of drone strikes”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Sunday that its experts had been informed of the drone strike and that “such an explosion is consistent with IAEA observations”.

In a separate statement, the IAEA confirmed the physical impact of the drone strikes on the plant, including one of its six reactors. One person has been reported killed.

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“The damage to Unit 6 did not compromise nuclear safety, but it was a serious incident that could undermine the integrity of the reactor's control system,” it added.

The power plant has been in the crosshairs since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in 2022 and seized the facility shortly after. The IAEA has repeatedly issued warnings about Europe's largest nuclear power plant amid fears of a nuclear disaster. Both Ukraine and Russia have accused the other of constantly attacking a plant near the front lines.

The plant's six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified personnel to operate critical cooling systems and other safety features.

On Sunday, three people were killed when a Russian projectile hit their home in the front-line town of Huliapol in Ukraine's partially occupied southeastern Zaporizhia region, regional governor Ivan Fedorov said. Later on Sunday, two people were injured in another shelling attack in Huliapol.

Separately, three people were wounded by Russian shelling in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region, regional governor Oleh Sinihubov said.

In Russia, debris from a Ukrainian drone struck a car carrying a family of six in Russia's Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, killing a girl and injuring four others, regional governor Vyacheslav Klatkov said.

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This story has been corrected to remove reference to drone strikes by Ukraine. Russian officials have said, but Ukraine has not commented.

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