A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, arrived at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) Thursday after initial delays were caused from nearby shelling.
The team of 13 men and one woman, led by Direct General Rafael Grossi, are hoping to better secure the site to prevent a nuclear catastrophe as a barrage of shelling that has threatened the integrity of the power station.
Ukraine’s defense ministry accused Russia of shelling the city of Enerhodar, located just 4 miles from the power station, along with areas in the immediate vicinity of the plant Thursday.
The ministry said a “group of Russian attack helicopters” hit residential areas in the city while a mortar strike hit near the plant’s nuclear reactors, reported Interfax.
Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said one of the plant’s two operational reactors had been shut down Thursday after power supply lines were again damaged – occurring just one week after both reactors were disconnected from the power grid.
Emergency protection systems have once again been triggered and backup diesel generators are ensuring the continued functioning of the disconnected reactor, Energoatom said on Telegram.
Russia claimed Ukrainian forces were behind the Thursday strikes and the Moscow-installed governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said that at least three people had been killed and five wounded in the attack, reported Reuters.
The strikes reportedly hit three kindergartens and had cut power to the city.
The IAEA mission to the Ukrainian power station is the first time the UN agency has crossed front lines into an active war zone since its inception in 1957.
Speaking from the city of Zaporizhzhia, roughly 30 miles from the nuclear plant, Grossi said Thursday that he and his team were aware of the attacks but that they would push ahead with their mission, reports said.