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IAEA chief makes plea for Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant safe zone after outage

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 9/3/2023 Reuters
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VIENNA: United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Thursday appealed for a protection zone around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine after another outage there, saying he was "astonished by the complacency" around the issue.

"Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out," Grossi told the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors.

Europe's biggest nuclear power plant lost its last external power line early on Thursday after missile strikes across Ukraine overnight.

The plant is now down to emergency diesel generators, a last line of defence to keep cooling reactor fuel and prevent a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

As in previous attacks, Russia and Ukraine blamed each other. Grossi has been trying to get both sides to strike a deal in which they would pledge not to fire at or from the plant and heavy weapons would be removed, diplomats say.

"This is the sixth time — let me say it again sixth time, that ZNPP has lost all off-site power and has had to operate in this emergency mode," Grossi told the board's quarterly meeting, according to an IAEA statement.

"Let me remind you — this is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. What are we doing? How can we sit here in this room this morning and allow this to happen? This cannot go on. I am astonished by the complacency."

He said everyone must commit to protect the plant's safety and security.

"And we need to commit now. What we need is action," he said. --REUTERS

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