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Update 135 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out nuclear safety and security missions at Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyy and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) this week as part of its ongoing and intensifying activities to help avert the danger of a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in the country, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

Requested by Ukraine, the two expert missions took place a week after the IAEA went to the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant to also provide on-site assistance and support in nuclear safety and security, and two weeks after a similar mission to the Chornobyl site. The IAEA has a permanent  presence at the country’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhya, since early September.

“The situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains precarious, fragile and potentially dangerous and we are doing everything we can to prevent a nuclear accident there, especially with our proposal to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility. We are making progress in our consultations with Ukraine and Russia and I’m hopeful the zone will be agreed and implemented soon. It is urgently needed,” Director General Grossi said.

“At the same time, however, it is very important that we don’t forget Ukraine’s other nuclear power plants. They may not be directly on the frontline as Zaporizhzhya is, but they are in a country at war and the potential nuclear safety and security risks are very clear. In recent weeks, our experts have conducted work aimed at reducing those risks, and this will continue as long as it is necessary,” he said.

This week’s expert missions assessed the nuclear safety and security situation at the two plants and identified their future equipment and other needs for follow-up action by the IAEA. This will also inform the forthcoming planned continuing presence at these plants, including the South Ukraine and Chornobyl NPPs.

At the Khmelnytskyy and Rivne plants, the IAEA experts found operating staff to be both professional and fully committed to their important tasks despite the challenging and difficult situation. Ensuring nuclear safety and security remained very much a priority at the two sites, the team said.

Located in north-western and western Ukraine, the two plants have so far not suffered any physical damage because of the conflict, but both have experienced related challenges and other consequences, for example power blackouts, that led to the temporary operation of back-up emergency diesel generators.

They requested continued IAEA assistance, including equipment deliveries and also in efforts to provide psychological support to staff working in extremely stressful conditions.

“In the coming days and weeks, we will address the requests made by the plants during this week’s expert missions. We will continue to deliver the concrete assistance that is needed to help protect Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during this unprecedented war situation,” Director General Grossi said.

At the Zaporizhzhya NPP this week, a new team of IAEA experts arrived at the site, replacing those who had been there for the past several weeks. It is the fourth IAEA team at Europe’s largest NPP since the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) was established on 1 September.

The site continues to receive off-site power through a single 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line, with one 330 kV back up line from the nearby thermal power plant available. There is no change to the status of reactor units 1 – 6. Unit 5 and 6 remain in hot shutdown, producing the steam for the site and heating the water for the district heating system.

Repair works of the damage caused by shelling on 19-20 November have been completed, except for some minor damage for which there is no safety concerns. At the thermal power plant 330kV switchyard, repairs continue.

Separately this week, the fifth delivery of equipment to the country’s nuclear organizations and facilities, organized by the IAEA through its Response and Assistance Network (RANET), has arrived in Ukraine comprising of radiation detection and monitoring equipment. The delivery was made possible by a donation from Germany.



Last update: 07 May 2024

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