Water level at Zaporizhia power plant worries IAEA

Faced with conflicting data, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday reiterated its request for access to the site where water levels are measured in the Kakhovka Dam reservoir used to cool reactors. Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.

The UN body said in a statement that its experts who are permanently present at the plant “need to gain access to a site near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in order to clarify the reason for the significant discrepancy observed between the different measurements.”

“I hope they will be able to go there very soon in order to make an independent assessment of the situation,” said the agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi, who is due to visit the station in the coming days.

The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River on Tuesday caused flooding in the towns adjacent to this river and raised concerns about the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant – the largest in Europe – which is 150 km from the dam.

Since the disaster, for which the two sides hold each other accountable, the water level in the dam’s reservoir has dropped “quickly” from 17 to 11.27 meters on Sunday morning, according to data received by IAEA staff.

A view of a flooded area after the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in Kherson (Reuters)

However, the information became mixed, as the station’s management reported at the end of this week that the level was “stabilized”, but the agency spoke of reports of “a continuous decrease in other points of the huge reservoir.”

And the agency reassured in its statement that at the present time the station can rely on a large storage basin and other reserves sufficient for “several months.”

Although the plant’s reactors have been suspended for six months, the fuel in the core of the reactors, as well as in the storage basins, must be constantly cooled “in order to avoid a possible melting incident and the release of radiation into the environment,” according to the agency.

The Zaporizhya power plant has been repeatedly bombed and has been disconnected from the electricity grid seven times since the Russian army seized it on March 4, 2022, ten days after the start of the Russian military operation against Ukraine.

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