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U.N. inspectors to visit Ukrainian nuclear plant amid radiation concerns

Yahoo Finance anchors discuss news that U.N. inspectors are heading to Ukraine to evaluate a nuclear plant amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, now to a big development in an ongoing story. UN inspectors are heading to the Ukrainian nuclear plant at the center of fears over radiation-- a potential radiation catastrophe. The group is expected to arrive at the Russian occupied plant later this week. It comes after weeks of negotiations attempting to broker access to the site amid intense fighting near the facility.

And obviously, Brian, the big question, of course, here has been whether this will be weaponized in some way. I mean, that's been the concern about what Russians will do with that, but it's also raised concerns around a lot of these countries who have nuclear power plants to say, well, how do we enforce the safety there if, in fact, you are involved in some kind of conflict?

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and this is also coming at a time where a lot of countries are interested in expanding their nuclear capacity, just because it could supplement the energy needs in the absence of, for example, natural gas supply being shut down, especially since March and the conflict in Ukraine. And it does raise questions of not only just the safety of these plants we've seen historically. But of course, there is the emissions aspect of it. And then there is the political aspect of it, as we're seeing unfold in Ukraine as well.

So this is all part of the massive energy shift that we're seeing not just in the United States, but globally over where do you try to allocate your resources. We know that there's a need for infrastructure investment to beef up that capacity. Where do you put it?

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I mean, I guess we've seen Germany has been a big reversal, three nuclear power plants that are staying online over in Japan, which imports a big chunk of their-- a majority, you would say, of their energy supply now looking at restarting a lot of their nuclear plants after Fukushima. So it's interesting to see how that shift has really started moving towards nuclear, largely because people would argue that despite all the concerns, it is still a cleaner energy source when you compare it to other fossil fuels.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and again, the energy mix is still going to include natural gas at some point, right? I mean, when you think about, for example, fertilizer, right, there's a large need for natural gas in the supply of fertilizer, which is really important for food distribution around the world. That's not something that nuclear can replace immediately, but obviously, there's a lot of just concern right now about how natural gas being used as simply power in a lot of countries, that needs to be replaced, given the offline that we've seen lately.

And what is the right way to approach that? Every country, depending on their political alignment, as you just mentioned with Germany, is going to have different incentives to go towards certain power alternatives, as opposed to others. And I think that that's going to make the global picture over where is the priority in terms of nuclear versus nat gas versus other types of energy going to go.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, it's going to get tighter. And actually, the conversation is certainly going to be elevated going into the winter.