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Update 145 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The main reservoir forming part of the Dnipro river, which provides cooling water for Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), has seen a recent reduction in water levels, in another indication of how the current conflict in the country is affecting infrastructure that is vital for nuclear safety and security, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

The team of IAEA experts present at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP) – located on the frontlines of an active combat zone – reported that the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir has been reducing. However, by design, the large cooling pond next to the ZNPP reactor units is kept above the level of the Kakhovka reservoir.

“Even though the decreased water level does not pose an immediate threat to nuclear safety and security, it may become a source of concern if it is allowed to continue. It again shows the many potential risks for this major nuclear plant during the war and underlines that we must never become complacent about its safety and security,” Director General Grossi said.

In recent weeks, the IAEA experts have heard the sounds of military conflict, including artillery fire, from outside the plant – some from far away, others closer – and this continues, highlighting the need for a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility, Director General Grossi said.

The Director General said he is continuing his consultations with Ukraine and the Russian Federation with the aim to agree and implement such a zone soon. While some progress has been made in those discussions, it remains too slow and more determined efforts are required from all sides, he said.

The Director General also expressed continued concern about the stress the ZNPP’s staff are facing during the conflict, especially as staffing levels have continued to decline. 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. The Agency is also aware of media reports of an explosion in the city of Enerhodar, where most of the ZNPP staff live.

Of the ZNPP’s reactors, the operational state remains the same as in previous weeks, namely four units are in cold shutdown mode, while two are in hot shutdown to supply steam and heat to the plant and the nearby city of Enerhodar. The plant also continues to receive the off-site electricity it needs for essential nuclear safety and security functions from the last operating 750 kilovolt (kV) main external power line, with one 330 kV back-up line available. 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 nuclear safety and security related equipment. Nevertheless, the ZNPP’s power supplies from the grid remain fragile, Director General Grossi said.

The IAEA’s permanent teams deployed at South Ukraine, Rivne, Khmelnitsky, and Chornobyl NPPs continue to provide technical assistance and advice, assessing the plants’ needs, and reporting their findings to the headquarters in Vienna. The first rotation of IAEA staff at the sites has started. A new team has already arrived at the Rivne NPP, with others to follow at the other NPPs in the next few days.

Last week, a donation of equipment from France comprising of personnel protective equipment for the State Emergency Services of Ukraine was delivered to Ukraine. This delivery followed an earlier one of automatic telephone exchange expansion equipment for the Rivne NPP, procured by funding from Canada.    


Last update: 07 May 2024

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