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Update 155 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts present at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) were again forced to shelter this week after missile attack warnings, with the sound of continued shelling in the distance as military activity continues in the region. In addition, one landmine exploded near the site, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

The increased military presence and activity in the region again underlines the importance and urgency of agreeing on the protection of the plant, Director General Grossi added.

Once again, a team from the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) crossed the front line of the armed conflict. Yesterday, the eighth IAEA team made the crossing to rotate with the previous team. The IAEA has maintained its continued presence at ZNPP for almost eight months to assess the nuclear safety and security situation at ZNPP based on the Seven Indispensable Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security.

The IAEA team continues to monitor the complex and challenging staffing situation at the plant. The current plant management has told the team that the total number of staff with Rosatom contracts is now slightly above 3000, with another 1000 in the process of approval. Roughly 1000 staff with Energoatom contracts still work at the plant, and others who remain in Enerhodar are occasionally called to work.

The plant management has confirmed that some staff have had their access blocked, claiming it is for “security purposes”. The IAEA team will continue its work to get a better understanding of the staffing situation. Director General Grossi has repeatedly expressed deep concern about the extremely difficult situation for ZNPP staff and their families, and the effect it has on nuclear safety and security at the plant.

In a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 26 April – the 37th Anniversary of the accident at Chornobyl - Director General Grossi confirmed that the IAEA will deploy a new programme of medical assistance for personnel at all Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which President Zelenskyy welcomed.

Separately, the ZNPP continues to rely on the only remaining functioning 750 kilovolt (kV) power line for off-site power. The back-up 330 kV power line that was damaged on 1 March remains disconnected. The ISAMZ team has been informed that the latest plan is for the line to be reconnected today. However, it should be noted that a number of such dates have come and gone in the last nearly two months, further demonstrating the precarious nature of essential off-site power to the site.

The ISAMZ team is monitoring the actions taken for restoring other sources of off-site power but has not had access to the nearby Zaporizhzhya Thermal Power Plant (ZTPP). The ZTPP operates its 330 kV open switchyard, through which back-up power has in the past been provided to the ZNPP. 

During its last visit to the ZTPP open switchyard on 19 December 2022, the ISAMZ Team observed significant damage due to shelling. Since that time, ISAMZ teams have requested to visit the site to assess progress in removing the damaged components and restoring operation of other off-site power lines to ZNPP, as was previously reported by the Russian Federation. Two weeks ago the team was informed that access would be granted in the coming days. It is important that ISAMZ gets the necessary access to the ZTPP open switchyard given the implications on nuclear safety and security at ZNPP.

The Team observed, and following questions were subsequently informed, that a large piece of equipment being transported into the turbine hall of Unit 3 was a transformer to replace the damaged “Kakhovka” node in the ZNPP open switchyard. The Kakhovka line is one of the four 750 kV lines that were operational before the military conflict. This line is linked to the currently Russian-controlled electrical grid, to the south of the ZNPP site.

In addition, the ISAMZ team reported that on 21 April, reactor Unit 6 at ZNPP reached cold shutdown state. After reaching cold shutdown a test was conducted to assess the integrity of the cladding on the nuclear fuel. The results demonstrated that the fuel cladding was intact. The transition to cold shutdown will enable ZNPP to perform inspections on the primary and secondary cooling circuits and pumps. Unit 5 remains in hot shutdown to provide steam for the site, such as for the treatment of wastewater.

The Agency continues to conduct necessary safeguards activities on the site.


Last update: 28 Apr 2023

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