• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

Update 164 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will provide vital assistance to Ukraine in coping with the devastating consequences of this week’s dam disaster, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced today, as the level of the reservoir that supplies cooling water to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) continued to fall.

Director General Grossi, responding to a call for international assistance from President Volodymyr Zelensky, said he would present details of the Agency’s new assistance package at their meeting in Kyiv next week, when the IAEA chief will also travel to the ZNPP in the country’s south.

Since the beginning of the military conflict more than 15 months ago, the IAEA has been supporting Ukraine in efforts to prevent a nuclear accident. In addition, the IAEA will now use its expertise and resources in the application of nuclear science to assist Ukraine in other areas in the affected region.

“Through the use of nuclear techniques, we will determine the effects on potable water, human health, and soil and water management and assess the integrity of critical infrastructure. Ukraine can count on our assistance now and in dealing with the longer-term consequences of this disaster,” he said.

The breach of the dam early on June 6 – causing a rapid drop in the water levels of the Kakhovka reservoir and further complicating an already precarious nuclear safety and security situation at the ZNPP – has added to the importance of the Director General’s already planned mission to the plant.

The IAEA experts present at the ZNPP said the height of the reservoir is continuing to drop at a rate of around five centimetres per hour and had reached 11.62 metres at 7pm local time today, down from nearly 17 metres before the dam was damaged almost four days ago.

Following a review, the ZNPP reported to the IAEA team that it has estimated it can pump water from the reservoir to the plant, for cooling of its six reactors and spent fuel, until the level falls to 11 metres or possibly lower.

It remains unclear at what height the Kakhovka reservoir will stabilize and whether it will do so before it reaches a level where the pumps can no longer be operated, Director General Grossi said.

However, the main sources of alternative water supplies – the large cooling pond next to the ZNPP and the discharge channel of the nearby Zaporizhzhya Thermal Power Plant (ZTPP) – are both full.

Director General Grossi said the IAEA team has been informed that the ZTPP discharge channel alone has sufficient water to provide the required cooling to the ZNPP for several weeks. In addition, the cooling pond can supply water to the ZNPP for months.

The ZNPP cooling pond and the ZTPP discharge channel are both integral to continuing to supply cooling water and the Director General reiterated that maintaining their integrity is vital for the safety of the plant.

In view of this, the ZNPP is carefully monitoring the condition of the dyke surrounding the large cooling pond because of the increased pressure caused by the massive loss of water on its other side.  

“Even if there is no short-term threat, the dam disaster is causing major new difficulties for the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant at a time when the nuclear safety and security situation is already extremely fragile and potentially dangerous during the military conflict,” Director General Grossi said. “Increased military activities in the area are adding to our deep concerns about the safety and security of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.”

Underlining such risks, the IAEA experts continue to hear military activity, including some explosions this morning.

Five of the ZNPP’s reactor units are in cold shutdown and one is in hot shutdown, providing steam to support processes that also contribute to safety on site.

The ZNPP said the available water supply gives it time to determine how long it will continue to operate Unit 5 in hot shutdown. The plant is considering the possibility of installing an independent steam boiler that would meet the need for steam supply to the site in case all six reactor units are in cold shutdown. 

The IAEA was also informed today that Ukraine’s national regulator – SNRIU – issued a regulatory order on 8 June for reactor Unit 5 to be placed into a cold shutdown state.

Separately, the Russian Federation, which currently controls the plant, informed in a letter to Director General Grossi that there had been “incoming strikes with the use of kamikaze drones” on Thursday and again today against the electric switchyard of the ZTPP, which in the past has been used for providing back-up electricity to the ZNPP until the last such 330 kilovolt (kV) power line was damaged more than three months ago.

Director General Grossi said the IAEA expects to independently assess this information, which requires accessing the ZTPP switchyard.

Under the five basic principles for protecting the ZNPP unveiled by Director General Grossi at the United Nations Security Council on 30 May, there should be no attack from or against the plant. In addition, the plant should not be used as storage or a base for heavy weapons and off-site power to the plant should not be put at risk.

“During my mission next week, I will reinforce our team of experts at the site in view of our increased activities there. In order for them to monitor compliance with the five principles, I expect them to have the required access,” Director General Grossi said.



Last update: 12 Jun 2023

Stay in touch