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Update 142 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Teams of nuclear safety and security experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are being stationed at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the Chornobyl site this week. Their planned long-term presence at the facilities marks a major expansion in the IAEA’s efforts to help reduce the risk of a severe nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict in the country.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi today launched the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Rivne (ISAMIR) at a flag-raising ceremony at this plant in western Ukraine, a day after he deployed a similar team, ISAMISU, at the South Ukraine NPP an eight-hour drive away. At the SUNPP, he also held talks with Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear power company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, and the head of Ukraine’s regulatory body, Oleh Korikov.

Tomorrow, Director General Grossi will inaugurate the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Chornobyl (ISAMICH), site of the 1986 accident in northern Ukraine, and in the next few days, an expert mission will also be deployed at the Khmelnitsky NPP. The IAEA already has a permanent presence of up to four experts at Ukraine’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhya.

With IAEA teams permanently present at all of Ukraine’s NPPs and the Chornobyl site, the Agency will have around 11-12 staff simultaneously on the ground in the country, an unprecedented undertaking by the organization.

“With our experts’ presence at Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities and at the Chornobyl site, we are intensifying and deepening our technical activities to help prevent a nuclear accident during the terrible and tragic war in Ukraine,” Director General Grossi said, after the IAEA flag was hoisted at the Rivne NPP as a symbol of the Agency’s presence.

“These new missions – launched at the request of the Government of Ukraine – will make a very real difference through supporting the Ukrainian operators and regulator in fulfilling their national responsibility of ensuring nuclear safety and security during these immensely difficult and challenging times for Ukraine. The experts will monitor key nuclear safety and security systems, provide technical assistance, assess the plants’ needs and report to our headquarters,” he said.

In the latest incident highlighting the persistent nuclear safety and security risks in Ukraine, the South Ukraine, Rivne and Khmelnitsky NPPs reduced their power output during the weekend as a precautionary measure while the country’s energy infrastructure was under missile attack. The power levels have since been restored, according to information from Ukraine.

In another incident over the weekend, Ukraine reported that missile attacks on Kyiv caused a fire in a warehouse on the site of the Kyiv Research Institute. The site holds a defueled research reactor, the core of which is stored in a spent fuel storage facility on the site. No personnel were injured. Radiation monitoring was performed and no changes were measured.

Director General Grossi will this week also meet senior Ukrainian government officials in 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.

“Located on the frontline, a protection zone for the Zaporizhzhya NPP is needed more than ever. I remain hopeful that it will be agreed and implemented soon, even though I would naturally have preferred to make faster progress on the plan. I aim to make substantive headway in this week’s meetings in Kyiv with the Ukrainian government. I will also press ahead in my parallel consultations with the Russian Federation,” he said.

At the ZNPP yesterday, the sole 330 kilovolt (kV) back-up line – which has suffered repeated cuts in recent weeks – was disconnected for a few hours to allow for maintenance to be carried out. It is now connected again. The plant – where six reactors are in shutdown – continues to receive off-site power for nuclear safety and security functions from its last remaining operational 750 kV power line. The general nuclear safety and security situation at the plant remains precarious, Director General Grossi said.

Last update: 07 May 2024

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