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Update 175 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts have observed directional anti-personnel mines on the periphery of the site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

During a walkdown on 23 July, the IAEA team saw some mines located in a buffer zone between the site’s internal and external perimeter barriers. The experts reported that they were situated in a restricted area that operating plant personnel cannot access and were facing away from the site. The team did not observe any within the inner site perimeter during the walkdown.

“As I have reported earlier, the IAEA has been aware of the previous placement of mines outside the site perimeter and also at particular places inside. Our team has raised this specific finding with the plant and they have been told that it is a military decision, and in an area controlled by military,” Director General Grossi said.

“But having such explosives on the site is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff – even if the IAEA’s initial assessment based on its own observations and the plant’s clarifications is that any detonation of these mines should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems. The team will continue its interactions with the plant,” he added.

In recent days and weeks, the IAEA experts present at the ZNPP have carried out inspections and regular walkdowns across the site, without seeing any heavy military equipment. The IAEA is also continuing to request access to the roofs of the ZNPP’s reactors and their turbine halls, including units 3 and 4 which are of particular interest.

Earlier today, the experts visited the reactor unit 6 main control room, emergency control room, the rooms where electrical cabinets of the safety systems are located, and parts of the turbine hall where they saw the main feedwater pumps, main turbine oil tank and main condenser.  While the team was not able to visit all areas in the turbine hall, they did not observe any mines or explosives.

In the evening of 22 July, the IAEA team heard several detonations some distance away from the plant.

Also over the weekend, the ZNPP temporarily lost its connection to the main 750 kilovolt (kV) power line and relied on a single 330 kV back-up line for off-site electricity for some eight hours on Saturday, without any consequences to nuclear safety and security on site. The cause was a technical failure in one of the switchyards some distance away from the site, the ZNPP informed the IAEA. The event once again highlighted the site’s fragile external power situation during the military conflict. Nuclear power plants need power for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions.

The plant has begun its planned transition of reactor unit 4 from cold to hot shutdown, informing the IAEA experts that the relevant tests were carried out and that the unit is heating up. Unit 4 is expected to reach hot shutdown status on 25 July. Once that is done, reactor unit 5 – now in hot shutdown – will be placed in cold shutdown in order to carry out preventive maintenance activities that are only possible in cold shutdown. The other units remain in cold shutdown. As reported previously the Ukraine national regulator – SNRIU – has issued regulatory orders to limit the operation of all six units to a cold shutdown state.

The IAEA experts are continuing to closely monitor the situation regarding the availability of water for cooling the ZNPP’s six reactors and other essential nuclear safety and security functions, following the destruction of the downstream Kakhovka dam in early June and the subsequent depletion of the huge reservoir near the plant. The IAEA team reported that the available water supply remains relatively stable, with the water level decreasing by around 1 centimetre per day due to usage and evaporation. The site continues to have sufficient water for some months.

A new team of IAEA experts arrived at the Rivne NPP today and new teams at the Khmelnitsky and South Ukraine sites will also arrive this week to replace the current IAEA teams there.

The IAEA Support and Assistance Mission on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources in Ukraine – ISAMRAD – arrived in Kyiv today as part of a mission to assess the radiation safety and nuclear security situation regarding radioactive sources in the country and also to identify equipment needs and other requirements. The team will also visit institutes and facilities in Kharkiv during the week to assess the nuclear safety and security situation there.



Last update: 07 May 2024

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