United Nations nuclear inspectors have discovered several mines at the Zaporizhizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, currently under Russian control.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that its team noticed the explosives in restricted regions within the plant’s boundaries. These areas were not accessible to the inspectors, whose role is to ensure the nuclear plant’s safety amidst the ongoing conflict.
IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, noted that based on preliminary assessments, any detonation of these mines would not impact the site’s nuclear safety systems. However, he emphasized that their presence at the site was “inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff.”
Grossi pointed out that the IAEA knew the earlier positioning of mines within and outside the site’s perimeter. “Our team has raised this specific finding with the plant, and they have been told that it is a military decision and in an area controlled by the military,” Grossi said.
Since Russian forces seized the Zaporizhizhia power plant last year, there have been ongoing concerns about a potential attack on the facility. Further intensifying concerns, Ukrainian and Russian officials have recently accused each other of planning to blow up the plant.
The Zaporizhizhia plant (the largest in Europe) provides the Ukrainian people a significant portion of the power supply. While damage to the plant would undeniably result in considerable economic and environmental consequences, experts reassured that the impact would not be as disastrous as the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.