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Update 134 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out a nuclear safety and security mission to the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) this week as it steps up its efforts to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in the country, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

Requested by Ukraine, it was part of a suite of IAEA missions to provide on-site assistance and support in nuclear safety and security to the country’s nuclear power plants (NPPs), including the SUNPP as well as the Rivne and Khmelnitsky NPPs, and the Chornobyl site to which the IAEA sent a mission last week.

Director General Grossi met Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Bucharest on Tuesday confirming that the IAEA will strengthen its presence at these NPPs. The Director General led a high-level IAEA delegation to the SUNPP in late March. This week’s mission was the first time a team of experts stayed at the site for several days to acquire a better understanding of the nuclear safety and security situation and of the plant’s needs.

At Ukraine’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhya, the IAEA has been continuously present for the past three months, currently with a team of four experts.

During the mission to the SUNPP, the IAEA team met plant management and staff and conducted walkdowns and interviews in the areas of nuclear and radiation safety, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and response, and logistics and communications.

The IAEA experts observed that the SUNPP staff continue to operate the plant with high professionalism and in accordance with the design and in compliance with the approved operational license, in particular with operational procedures and safety limits, despite the very challenging conditions arising from the armed conflict in Ukraine, with numerous air raid warnings.

The IAEA team also learned more about the loss of external power on 23 November, and the subsequent shutdown of the two operating units, that resulted from attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The site’s diesel generators were able to provide power to maintain nuclear safety and security systems, but there were some plant challenges and there was also an impact on on-site and off-site communications.

The team also assessed logistics and spare parts management and reviewed the list of support equipment earlier requested through the Ukraine regulator. This led to a better understanding of site needs and how the IAEA can provide further assistance with regard to nuclear safety and security.

The IAEA team’s assessments will help inform the follow-up missions to the SUNPP to provide the Agency’s continuing assistance and support.  The IAEA’s initial missions to the Rivne and Khmelnitsky plants will take place next week.

With regard to ZNPP, the site continues to receive off-site power through a single 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line, with one 330kV back up line from the nearby thermal power plant switchyard available.

In addition, ZNPP site management has informed the IAEA team that they had received information from Rosatom that a further 330kV power line to the thermal power plant switchyard is being repaired and should be ready soon as an additional back-up power line in case of loss of the 750kV and 330 kV power lines that are routed from Ukraine controlled territory. It was also reported by site management that a further two power 330kV power lines may also be restored, but no deadline was given. There is no information regarding any plans to restore any of the lost 750kV power lines.

Up to 70 mobile diesel boilers are being gradually deployed in the nearby city of Enerhodar to provide for heating of communal buildings, houses and flats. Currently, these boilers operate at a local school, kindergarten and the hospital. Up to seven mobile diesel boilers are being deployed on the ZNPP site to heat buildings at the site. One has arrived and a further three will arrive today.

Four of the reactor units remain in cold shutdown, while the two other units are in hot shutdown – enabling them to provide steam to the plant and heat to Enerhodar. The city also continues to receive electricity from the off-site power lines through the ZNPP and thermal power plant switchyards system.

This week it was announced on site and by the Russian Federation that ZNPP’s Chief Engineer Yuri Chernichuk has been appointed as plant director. The Ukraine operator Energoatom has rejected this appointment and has appointed Dmytro Verbytskyi as acting director general of the plant, and Igor Murashow as chief engineer, who are not on the site.

Director General Grossi reiterated that the IAEA regards ZNPP as a Ukrainian facility, and he expressed concern about the decision-making situation showing open contradictions regarding the chain of command at the plant, which could have a negative impact on nuclear safety and security.    

There has been no shelling on the ZNPP site itself since 20 November but there has been some shelling in the vicinity of the site. Work to repair the damage caused by the shelling onsite continues, including the completion of the repair of a power cable to one of the site’s 20 diesel generators.

Director General Grossi continues to engage in high-level discussions with both Ukraine and Russia aimed at agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.

In mid-November, the fourth delivery of equipment to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, organized by the IAEA through its Response and Assistance Network (RANET), arrived in Ukraine comprising of personal protective equipment, contamination monitors and detectors. The delivery was made possible by a donation from France’s ORANO and EDF.




Last update: 07 May 2024

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