A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar


  • IAEA urges action to prevent a "severe nuclear accident" at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
  • IAEA's Rafael Grossi said shelling around the nuclear power plant persists amid the war
  • A Ukrainian lawmaker warned a nuclear accident in Zaporizhzhia could result in 3 million deaths

The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog issued a stark warning as fierce fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces continues in the area surrounding Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he was "extremely concerned" about the potential security risk of the nuclear power plant amid the war in Ukraine.

"We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment," Grossi said, NBC News reported.

Grossi said IAEA experts at the site of ZNPP "are continuing to hear shelling on a regular basis."

Dmytro Orlov, the exiled mayor of the Ukrainian town of Enerhodar, where most of the Zaporizhzhia power plant's workers live, echoed the IAEA's fears of a possible nuclear accident in the power plant.

Orlov accused the Russian troops of sowing panic among his town's residents following announcements of evacuations.

"Some of the people who wanted to leave were loaded onto buses. Some left in their own vehicles," Orlov said.

Last week, a report by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine revealed that the Russian forces had stored explosives and other military equipment in one of ZNPP's turbine compartments.

Ukrainian authorities said the "military equipment, weapons and explosives" were found by the IAEA representatives in the turbine section of the power unit No. 4 of the Ukrainian power plant.

Ukraine's state nuclear regulator warned that storing explosives in ZNPP endangers the nuclear plant's personnel and the people living around the facility.

The report noted that should a nuclear accident happen in ZNPP, its fallout would be felt in the entire Ukraine and its neighboring countries.

Ukrainian authorities recommended depriving Russia of rights and privileges in using nuclear energy and called on the international community to impose stricter sanctions against Russian nuclear companies.

Meanwhile, Oleh Korikov, the acting chairman of Ukraine's Chief State Inspector for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, accused Russia of turning the nuclear power plant into a military base.

"The most serious is an accident with severe core damage and release of radiation products outside the reactor's containment," Korikov said.

In August, Lesia Vasylenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, warned that a potential nuclear disaster in ZNPP would be six times bigger than the 1986 accident in the Chernobyl power plant.

Vasylenko said as many as 3 million people could die and that 51 million more could be affected by radiation.

Russia captured ZNPP in the early stage of its invasion of Ukraine last year after the Russian troops broke into the nuclear power plant's perimeter. However, the nuclear facility is still operated by Ukrainian technicians.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant near Enerhodar