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Ukraine: IAEA mission for Zaporizhzhya started, Italian Aparo expert in Grossi’s team

ROME, AUGUST 29 – “The day has come, @IAEAorg’s Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) is now on its way. We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility. Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week”. With this tweet, IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi ,announced the departure of the UN agency’s first monitoring mission, which will arrive at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant later this week, after the war had in the last few days come increasibly closer to what is considered Europe’s largest nuclear facility, controlled by Russian forces since the beginning of March but operated by its Ukrainian staff.

“The day has come,” Grossi wrote on his Twitter account, “The Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (Isamz) is on its way. We must protect the safety of the largest nuclear facility in Ukraine and Europe…. I am proud to lead this mission,” he explained, attaching a photo of him along with the other 13 components wearing an IEA uniform.

Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant has been controlled by Russian forces since March but is operated by its Ukrainian staff. This month the site has come under repeated shelling, and last week temporarily lost connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line. Grossi’s tweet also included a photograph of Massimo Aparo, deputy director general and director of the agency’s Safeguards Department, the only Italian to join the group.

An engineer specializing in the nuclear sector, Aparo graduated in nuclear engineering from La Sapienza University in Rome. He also had experience in the European Space Agency and Enea, while in 1997 he joined the IAEA, where he first held the positions of Chief of the Scientific and Technical Services Division, then that of Chief of the Tokyo Regional Office in the A Operations Division, with responsibility for overseeing UN missions on the safety of nuclear facilities in Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the other countries of Asia. In 2015, following the U.N. resolution, he was appointed Head of the Iran Task Force, an operational unit created to verify and monitor that all of Iran’s nuclear technology states are limited to scientific research and consistent with required standards under penalty of lifting international sanctions.

Two days ago Ukraine had informed the IAEA of new bombings near the Zaporizhzhya power plant site but said that all safety systems remained operational and there was no increase in radiation levels.

There had been bombings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Ukraine still did not have complete information on the nature of the damage, Grossi had said. The bombing had hit the area of the plant’s two so-called special buildings, both located about 100 meters from the reactor buildings, as well as an area of overpasses. These buildings house facilities including water treatment plants, equipment repair shops or waste management facilities. There was also damage on some water pipes at the site, but they had been repaired.

The mission that the U.N. agency has established would assess the physical damage to the power plant facilities, determine whether the main and backup safety systems remained functional, and assess the working conditions of personnel, as well as conduct urgent safeguard activities at the site. The team will bring clarity to the situation and help address any contradictory information about the status of the facility, its operation and the damage it has sustained. Speaking to the United Nations Security Council earlier this month about the deteriorating situation at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, Mr Grossi said: “It is those facts, gathered during a site visit, that are needed for the IAEA to be able to develop and provide an independent risk assessment of the nuclear safety and security risks.”(@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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