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IAEA’s mission to Zaporizhzhya ‘on its way’: Agency head

IAEA’s Support and Assistance Mission to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is now on its way, Rafael Grossi, the agency’s head, reported on Twitter on Monday.

As he pointed out, “we must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility.”

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. Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week.

— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) August 29, 2022

Captured by Russian troops in March but run by Ukrainian staff, the facility has been a major hotspot in the six-month conflict with both sides trading blame for recent shelling near the plant.

The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the plant to ensure it is not a target.

The cut-off

Last week, the facility was completely disconnected from the Ukrainian grid for the first time after nearby fires interfered with power lines, the state nuclear company Energoatom reported.

It added that fires broke out in the ash pits of a coal power station and interfered with power lines connecting the plant to the grid.

“As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network,” the company wrote.

The vast nuclear power plant supplied more than 20 pct of Ukraine’s electricity needs and its loss would pile new strain on the government, which is already bracing for a difficult wartime winter of potentially crippling energy shortages.

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