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IAEA inspection team to visit Ukraine nuclear plant

FILE - Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks as Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi listens during a news conference at the Iikura guesthouse in Tokyo, Thursday, May 19, 2022. The U.N. nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

FILE – Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks as Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi listens during a news conference at the Iikura guesthouse in Tokyo, Thursday, May 19, 2022. The U.N. nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

AP

A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “is now on its way” to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where fighting has stoked concerns about a potential accident.

“The day has come, @IAEAorg‘s Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) is now on its way. We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine‘s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” the United Nations nuclear watchdog’s director general, Rafael Grossi, wrote on Twitter Monday.

Grossi shared the announcement alongside a photo of over a dozen people in IAEA garb, standing at attention.

The inspectors are set to be in Zaporizhzhya later this week, with plans to assess physical damage to the plant, staff conditions and safety and security systems, and “perform urgent safeguards activities,” the agency said.

Russia has controlled the area where the nuclear power plant is located since early in the war – though Ukrainian workers still manage its operations – and the two countries have blamed each other for recent nearby strikes.

Even amid rising international concern about a possible radiation leak, power failure and nuclear accident at the plant, Russia and Ukraine have continued reporting attacks near Zaporizhzhya and swapping claims that the other side is behind the strikes.

Ukraine said shelling hit buildings near the reactor and damaged water pipelines late last week, according to the IAEA, though it noted radioactivity was “within normal range.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the shelling “Russian nuclear terror” and pushed the international community to sanction Russia’s nuclear industry and fuel exports.

The plant lost connection to its power grid briefly last week, and Zelensky warned of a “radiation disaster.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved. Read more from The Hill at thehill.com

This story was originally published August 29, 2022 8:50 AM.

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