Recent fighting near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine has again highlighted the potential risk of a disaster, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned on Sunday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi said Ukrainian authorities had informed the nuclear watchdog of renewed shelling at the site over the past three days, but they stated that all safety systems remained operational and there had been no increase in radiation levels.

“The latest shelling once again underlined the risk of a potential nuclear accident at the ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), which is controlled by Russian forces since early March but operated by its Ukrainian staff,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Grossi said Ukraine did not yet have complete information on the nature of the damage from the shelling, which occurred on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

The Zaporizhzhia plant has six nuclear reactors.  It normally has four external power lines but three were lost earlier in the conflict, now in its seventh month.

The shelling had hit the area of the plant’s two so-called special buildings, located about 100 metres from the reactor buildings, as well as one overpass area. 

The buildings house facilities including water treatment plants, equipment repair shops or waste management facilities. Some water pipelines also were damaged, but they had been repaired.

All measurements of radioactivity at the site were within normal range, and there was no indication of any hydrogen leakage, said Mr. Grossi, citing information from Ukraine.

The nuclear plant has continued access to off-site electricity after temporarily losing connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolt external power line on Thursday.

Connection was restored that afternoon following two power cuts and the disconnection of the plant’s two operating reactors from the national electricity grid.

Both reactor units were re-connected on Friday and are again operating. The other four units were disconnected before Thursday and remained in shutdown.

Meanwhile, Mr. Grossi said he continues consultations with all parties in efforts to deploy an IAEA expert mission to the plant to help ensure nuclear safety and security there. 

The mission would assess the physical damage to the facilities, determine whether the main and back-up safety and security systems were functional, evaluate the working conditions of the staff, and perform urgent safeguard activities on the site.