The IAEA calls for a safety zone at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tuesday for a safety zone to be established around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, describing the extensive damage inspectors have found in the plant on the front line in the Ukrainian war.

A long-awaited report did not assign blame for the damage at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of bombing. The plant is controlled by Russian forces, but is operated by Ukrainian technicians.

Inspectors said they had found Russian soldiers and equipment at the plant, including military vehicles parked in the turbine halls. They also argued that the conditions for the Ukrainian personnel operating the plant must be improved to reduce the probability of errors.

“Ukrainian personnel operating the plant under Russian military occupation are subjected to high and constant stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available,” the IAEA report said.

“This is not sustainable and could lead to an increase in human error with implications for nuclear safety,” he added.

The IAEA inspectors, led by the agency’s head, Rafael Grossi, braved the bombing to cross the front line and reach the plant on Friday. Two experts have stayed on to maintain a long-term presence.

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