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Update 113 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Shelling damaged a power line providing electricity to reactor unit 6 at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) yesterday, forcing the unit to temporarily rely on its emergency diesel generators instead, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed by senior Ukrainian operating personnel at the site today.

Five diesel generators started supplying power to this reactor after its connection to a 150 kilovolt (kV) back-up line was cut during the shelling that occurred in an industrial area outside the ZNPP site. They operated for about an hour and a half, while an alternative source of power from four of the other reactors was connected to the unit, whose core cooling was maintained at all times.

The incident once again underlined the precarious nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – now located in an active war zone – and especially the fragile and vulnerable supplies of external power that are needed for cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions, also during the current cold shutdown of all the plant’s six reactors.

The ZNPP only has one direct high-voltage external power line available – out of four such lines before the conflict – and its connection to reactor unit 6 was lost in shelling on 21 September. Also at that time, the unit temporarily received electricity from its diesel generators before it could again access external power, indirectly through the switchyard of a nearby thermal power station and a back-up 150 kV line. That 150 kV line was the one that was damaged yesterday, causing a second interruption in electricity supplies to this reactor in just over two weeks.

“Again and again, the plant’s courageous, skilled and experienced operators find solutions to overcome the severe problems that keep occurring because of the conflict. However, this is not a sustainable way to run a nuclear power plant. There is an urgent need to create a more stable environment for the plant and its staff,” Director General Grossi said.

The Director General was in Kyiv yesterday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky on the situation at the ZNPP and the IAEA’s proposal to set up a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility. He will travel to the Russian Federation early next week for further consultations on the plan, with the aim to agree and implement it as soon as possible.

Maintaining and expanding the IAEA’s presence at the ZNPP, four IAEA nuclear safety, security and safeguards experts crossed the frontline and arrived at the plant today to replace their two colleagues who have stayed and worked at the site since 1 September, when Director General Grossi travelled to the facility to establish the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) there. The experts are providing independent and impartial observations and assessments of the situation at the plant. They will also provide support to the nuclear safety and security protection zone once it is agreed.

“Today’s rotation underlines our determination that the IAEA will stay at the plant as long as it is required. Their presence is necessary to help stabilize the situation, which remains very difficult and volatile. I’m immensely grateful to our two experts who have been on the plant for over five weeks, and to the four that are there now. This is crucial work that they are doing in very challenging circumstances and we are very proud of them,” Director General Grossi said.

The ZNPP has been controlled by Russian forces since early March. Over the past seven months, its Ukrainian operating staff have worked to prevent a nuclear accident during the current military conflict, in extremely difficult conditions with frequent shelling at the plant or near it.


Last update: 07 May 2024

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