IAEA reports that Ukraine’s second nuclear facility has been damaged

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday it had received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s second besieged city, Kharkiv, but that it did not there were no “radiological consequences”.

The Vienna-based UN body said Ukrainian authorities reported an attack had taken place on Sunday, adding that no increase in radiation levels had been reported at the site.

Because the site’s “radioactive material inventory is very low” and maintained in a “subcritical” state, the IAEA said “damage reported to it would have had no radiological consequences.”

The facility is part of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, a research institute that produces radioactive materials for medical and industrial applications.

Kharkiv has come under heavy shelling and Russian missile attacks in recent days as Moscow tries to step up pressure on Ukraine to surrender.

The nuclear institute itself has been at the center of online conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims in Russian media that Ukraine is trying to develop a ‘dirty bomb’ – a crude nuclear weapon capable of causing mass casualties. .

The IAEA said it was just the latest example of a nuclear facility caught up in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“We have already had several episodes compromising the security of Ukrainian nuclear sites,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Damage was reported to radioactive waste storage facilities near Kiev and Kharkiv and Russian forces struck the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, causing a fire that had to be brought under control.

The IAEA said Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – was now under the control of Russian forces, blocking the delivery of spare parts and medicine.

Only two of the installation’s six reactors are operating.

Communications have also been cut with small nuclear facilities in the southern city of Mariupol – which is surrounded by Russian forces, leaving residents without electricity or running water.

The IAEA has urged Moscow and Kiev to agree on a plan to safeguard nuclear facilities.

Grossi offered to go to the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant – site of a 1986 disaster – where more than 200 workers have been on site for 12 straight days.

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