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Update 141 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will be in Ukraine next week to establish a continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all the country’s nuclear power facilities, significantly stepping up the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current military conflict.

The Director General will travel to the South Ukraine and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) as well as to the Chornobyl site to launch the missions consisting of two IAEA experts at each of the facilities. The IAEA already has a permanent presence of up to four experts at Ukraine’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhya, and a two-member team will also be stationed at the Khmelnitsky NPP in the coming days.

“As this tragic war enters its second year, we must continue to do everything we can to avert the danger of a serious nuclear accident that would cause even more suffering and destruction for the people of Ukraine and beyond,” Director General Grossi said.

“Soon the IAEA will be permanently present at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities, including Chornobyl. This is an important step in our work to help Ukraine during these immensely difficult and challenging times. Our nuclear safety and security experts will monitor the situation at the plants, assess their equipment and other needs, provide technical support and advice, and report their findings to IAEA headquarters,” he said.

With these new missions at Ukraine’s NPPs – established at the country’s request and agreed in a meeting between Director General Grossi and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal last month – the IAEA will have around 11-12 experts present in the country at any given time. Although IAEA missions have been at these sites previously during the conflict, the continuous deployment of teams marks a major expansion.

Director General Grossi will also meet next week senior Ukrainian government officials in the capital Kyiv on his proposal to set up a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporizhzhya (ZNPP), where the IAEA has been present for more than four months.

“I remain determined to make the much-needed protection zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are making progress, albeit not as fast as they should. I remain hopeful that we will be able to agree and implement the zone soon,” Director General Grossi said.

At the ZNPP this week, a new team of three IAEA experts arrived to replace the previous team that had been there for several weeks. It is the fifth IAEA team at the site since the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) was established on 1 September last year.

The ISAMZ team reports that the ZNPP’s last remaining 330 kilovolt (kV) back-up power line is now connected to the plant, after suffering some further disconnections in the last week, highlighting the continued fragile off-site power supply situation for Europe’s largest NPP. The ZNPP’s six reactors are in shutdown but still need electricity for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions. The ZNPP receives off-site power also from its last remaining operational 750 kV external power line. In case of loss of external power, all the site’s 20 diesel back-up generators are ready to supply the site with the electricity needed for all safety related equipment. In addition, nine mobile diesel-fuelled boilers are now operating to help prevent critical ZNPP systems from freezing during the winter and provide heating for ZNPP personnel. The situation at the ZNPP remains precarious.

Separately today, Director General Grossi reiterated his serious concerns about the pressure that ZNPP staff are facing, with potential consequences for nuclear safety and security.

“The reduced ZNPP staffing levels combined with psychological stress due to the on-going military conflict and the absence of family members who fled the area have created an unprecedented situation that no NPP staff should have to endure,” he said.

ZNPP staff also continue to be urged to accept new labour contracts with the Russian state company Rosatom, while the national Ukrainian operator Energoatom is urging them not to do so.

The ISAMZ team has been informed that despite all the challenges, the ZNPP still has adequate operational staff to maintain the safe operation of all units at the plant’s current level of functioning.






Last update: 07 May 2024

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