ZNPP Director Yuri Chernichuk said Friday, May 5, that six reactor blocks were shut down and undergoing maintenance "in accordance with all necessary regulations, with strict control of radiation safety standards."
"We understand that this is a manipulation. Therefore, the nuclear reactors have now been powered down. The fifth reactor is on hot standby. We do not understand what this monkey with a grenade can perform, so we have powered down the reactors," Balitsky told the Crimea 24 TV channel.
Concerns over the safety of Europe's largest nuclear power plant arose due to the long-hyped Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-held territory, including areas in the Zaporizhzhia region. (Related: Experts: Continued attacks on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could lead to WWIII.)
Russian troops took control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant in March 2022. A subsidiary of Moscow's state-owned nuclear energy giant Rosatom formally assumed management of the plant last fall, when the Zaporizhzhia Region voted to join Russia along with Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk.
"The security situation in the area near the facility was "becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday, May 6. "I'm extremely concerned about the very real nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant. We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment."
The nuclear installation has become the target of repeated artillery shelling and drone attacks by Kyiv's forces. Also, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly staged landing operations across the Dnieper River in an apparent attempt to seize the facility, but none of the attacks have been successful.
ZNPP is significant because Ukraine relies heavily on nuclear power. Should Moscow keep it, Kyiv would lose 20 percent of its domestic electricity generating capacity. The plant is mostly operated by a Ukrainian workforce.
Since last week, Balitsky has already initiated the evacuation of more than 1,600 people – including 660 children – in Russian-occupied towns on the front lines in Zaporizhzhia.
According to CNN, local Telegram channels reported sightings of evacuation buses and authorities telling residents to pack their bags and take their children out of kindergartens. Residents were being placed in temporary accommodation.
Balitsky said the evacuees "have everything they need: food, a place to sleep, constant contact and consultation with specialists."
Meanwhile, Ukraine's general staff said Russian forces were evacuating local Russian passport holders as a means to forcibly deport Ukrainians. "The first to be evacuated are those who accepted Russian citizenship in the first months of the occupation," it said in a statement.
Moreover, spokesperson for Ukraine's Operational Command South Natalia Humeniuk told local media the evacuations were "an imitation of care for the local residents" as this was a standard practice previously used by the Russians. "They are trying to evacuate the people to the places where they set up their own defense lines and where they are setting their units in order to use local civilians as a cover," Humeniuk said.
Both nations have accused one another of shelling the plant and efforts to secure a safety zone around it have failed.
Visit Nuclear.news for more news related to a possible nuclear catastrophe in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Watch the video below that talks about the evacuation initiated by Moscow in the towns surrounding ZNPP.
This video is from the MEGA (Make Earth Great Again) channel on Brighteon.com.