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Update 104 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that shelling caused an explosion near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) early today, impacting three power lines and damaging windows at the site, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

Ukraine told the IAEA that the explosion took place around 300 metres from the SUNPP industrial site. The affected power lines did not include any of the 750 kilovolt (kV) lines connecting the plant to the grid.

Ukraine’s national operator Energoatom separately said the SUNPP’s three reactors were continuing to operate normally and that no staff were injured. The three power lines were automatically reconnected after a short period of time, it said. The SUNPP is located about 250 km from the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Europe’s largest. Ukraine also has two other nuclear power plants.

In another significant development highlighting continuing severe risks to nuclear safety and security during the current conflict in Ukraine, a power line that has been used to supply the ZNPP with electricity from the Ukrainian grid through the switchyard of a nearby thermal power station was disconnected yesterday, IAEA experts at the site learnt. The cause was not immediately clear.

The ZNPP – whose six reactors are currently in a cold shutdown state – still receives the electricity it needs for essential safety functions from a 750 KV external power line that was restored on Friday, but it now does not have access to back-up power from the grid, the IAEA experts said.

“The situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile and precarious. Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard. The plant is located in the middle of a war zone, and its power status is far from safe and secure. Therefore, a nuclear safety and security protection zone must urgently be established there,” Director General Grossi said.

The Director General will later this week travel to the United Nations in New York for high-level consultations on such a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP, which has frequently been shelled over the past two months. In recent days, there has been no shelling at the plant itself, but it continues in the wider area near the plant, he said.

‘While we have recently focused on the urgent need for action to prevent a nuclear accident at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant – establishing an IAEA presence there earlier this month – today’s explosion near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant all too clearly demonstrates the potential dangers also at other nuclear facilities in the country,” Director General Grossi said. “Any military action that threatens nuclear safety and security is unacceptable and must stop immediately.”

As part of the IAEA’s assistance and support to Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security during the conflict, Director General Grossi travelled to the SUNPP in March, the first of the three IAEA missions he has led to the country over the past half year, including the one to the ZNPP on 1 September.



Last update: 19 Sep 2022

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