EUROPE’S biggest nuclear power plant in Ukraine is “completely out of control” after being occupied by Russia, a United Nations chief has warned.
Russian forces have “violated” every safety measure since seizing the plant – that has six nuclear reactors – in early March, experts said.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency voiced his deep concern after receiving only “patchy” communication from staff at Zaporizhzhia.
Rafael Grossi explained: “Every principle of safety has been violated one way or the other. And we cannot allow that to continue.
“What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”
He said the power plant had experienced a “catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility”.
Referring to the repeated Russian shelling of Zaporizhzhia, the IAEA’S director general said the physical integrity of the site has been completely disrespected.
A blaze earlier broke out at the site when Russian forces battled with Ukrainians to take control of the plant.
Other reports suggested an administrative building had been damaged in the struggle, although the reactors were not affected.
A “paradoxical situation” now remains inside Zaporizhzhia, as native staff continue to run nuclear operations under the control of Putin’s henchmen.
Mr Grossi said the tense working conditions have led to inevitable moments of friction between warring troops and alleged violence.
Although his organisation has had some contact with staff, the communication has been “faulty” and “patchy”.
It has left the IAEA concerned about whether “the plant is getting all it needs” after its supply chain was disrupted.
Mr Grossi pleaded with Russia and Ukraine to allow teams to visit the plant to inspect the hordes of nuclear material.
It comes amid reports ammo and explosives used by the Russian army have been stashed dangerously close to the nuclear reactors.
The UN chief stressed: “This is why I have been insisting from day one that we have to be able to go there to perform this safety and security evaluation, to do the repairs and to assist as we already did in Chernobyl.”
Every principle of safety has been violated one way or the other. And we cannot allow that to continue.
Experts have warned that if disaster struck at the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, it could even surpass the devastation seen in 1986.
A nuclear reactor exploded during a safety test at Chernobyl, causing a blast that was the equivalent of 500 nuclear bombs.
Dangerously high radiation levels led to the creation of a 30km wide exclusion zone with over 350,000 people being evacuated from their homes.
Putin’s men took control of the Chernobyl power plant in Pripyat shortly after invading earlier this year, before handing it back to Ukraine at the end of March.
Grossi and his specialist team set up an “assistance mission” at the site to regulate safety measures, that he says has been “very, very successful so far.”
He added: “The IAEA, by its presence, will be a deterrent to any act of violence against this nuclear power plant.
“So I’m pleading as an international civil servant, as the head of an international organization, I’m pleading to both sides to let this mission proceed.”