UN Atomic Agency Warns of Nuclear Disaster After Drone Strikes on Ukrainian Power Plant

Apr 9, 2024

Drones attacked the Zaporizhzhia power plant in eastern Ukraine on Sunday. The plant is held by Russia. After the attack, the United Nations’ (UN) top atomic energy watchdog group warned the plant is at risk of  “major nuclear accident." It was the first direct attack on the plant since November 2022. 

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the attack. Three people were hurt. There were at least three direct hits on structures that hold the plant’s central reactor. The attack didn't cause an unsafe radiation leak. But the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that another attack on the plant could be disastrous. It is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

The plant is mostly shut down. But one of its reactors needs a constant supply of power to cool down.   

"This is a major escalation" of the threat of a nuclear accident at the plant, said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi in a statement. These attacks "must cease immediately," he said.

Russian military officials at the plant claimed Ukraine attacked the plant. Ukraine's intelligence agency blamed it on Russian “imitation strikes." It said this is "a well known criminal practice of the invaders." The point is to accuse Ukraine of putting Europe in danger with a phony attack. Neither claim has been verified.

The war has lasted more than two years. Zaporizhzhia remains hotly contested. Three people were killed and three others were injured here in 350 attacks by Russia in just one day. That period lasted from Sunday to Monday. A Russian strike last week on the city killed four and wounded at least 20. 

Reflect: Why might a nuclear power plant be a target of focus during a war between two countries?

Photo of downed drone at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant from Reuters.

The second-to-last paragraph of the article emphasizes _______. (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. the potential risk of a nuclear disaster
b. the importance of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
c. that both Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the attack
d. the role of the IAEA
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