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Update 148 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The sound of artillery fire near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and the temporary loss of its only remaining back-up power line have again underlined persistent nuclear safety and security risks during the military conflict in the country, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, said today.

The Director General also expressed concern about continued delays in the rotation of the team of IAEA experts currently at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), who should have been replaced by a new team more than three weeks ago.

He said he hoped the rotation could finally take place later this week and renewed his appeal for constructive efforts by all involved parties to make this happen, saying the important nuclear safety and security work of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) was in everybody’s interest.

The IAEA experts who have now been at the ZNPP since early January reported to headquarters that around 20 “detonations” could be heard yesterday afternoon, apparently in the vicinity of the plant, which is located on the frontline of an active combat area.

Over the past few weeks there has been an increasing security presence on the site. “This is a concerning trend that shows the urgency and importance of establishing a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” Director General Grossi said, stressing that he was continuing his diplomatic efforts to agree and implement the zone as soon as possible.

The plant’s 330 kilovolt (kV) back-up power line was disconnected early on Saturday following the sound of military activity further away, then briefly restored, but lost again the same morning, the IAEA team also said. The disconnection occurred some distance away from the plant on the other side of the Dnipro river. The power line was re-connected on Sunday afternoon.

Director General Grossi said it was another reminder of the fragile external power situation for the ZNPP, which currently receives the external electricity it needs for nuclear safety and security from the sole remaining operational 750 kV off-site power line, out of four that connected the site to the grid before the conflict began a year ago.

On a more re-assuring note, Director General Grossi said the water level in the main reservoir forming part of the Dnipro river, which provides cooling water for the ZNPP, had stabilised in recent weeks following the previously reported reduction in the amount of water held by the Kakhovka dam. By design, the large cooling pond next to the ZNPP reactor units is kept above the level of the reservoir.

The five IAEA teams present at Ukraine’s NPPs continue to review the nuclear safety and security situation at all the sites against the IAEA Seven Indispensable Pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security during an armed conflict and to support the identification of further assistance to the nuclear facilities.


Last update: 07 May 2024

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