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Update 203 - IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

146/2023
Vienna, Austria

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) is installing four new mobile diesel boilers to generate additional steam needed for various nuclear safety functions at the site, including for waste treatment, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today.

The IAEA team of experts present at the ZNPP observed the installation work during a walkdown last Sunday and were subsequently informed that the new boilers will be ready soon. The site currently has nine mobile boilers, eight of which are operating to provide heating during the winter.

“Nuclear power plants need significant amounts of steam to conduct important operational activities at the sites. This remains the case also for the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, even though it has not produced electricity for well over a year now. The IAEA has encouraged the plant to install diesel boilers for this purpose and we welcome the planned additional capacity,” Director General Grossi said.

Five reactors remain in cold shutdown, while unit 4 is in hot shutdown to produce steam and heat, including for the nearby town of Enerhodar, where most plant staff live.

Nearly three weeks after it suffered its eighth complete loss of off-site power during the conflict, the ZNPP remains connected to two external power sources: the main 750 kilovolt (kV) power line, and a back-up 330 kV power line.

The IAEA experts have over the past week continued to monitor the nuclear safety and security situation across the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), conducting walkdowns to the reactor hall and electrical safety system rooms of unit 3 and to the main control room of unit 5, where they observed a successful test of the safety systems.

In recent days, they also went to the site’s 750 kV electrical switchyard, entry point for the off-site power needed at the plant, and the onsite water treatment facility. In another walkdown, they saw the ZNPP’s cooling pond, cooling towers, inlet and outlet channels as well as the outlet channel of the nearby Zaporizhzhya Thermal Power Plant. However, they were not allowed this time to access the isolation gate of the cooling pond.

Separately, the IAEA experts were informed by the ZNPP that they could not access the reactor rooftops as planned on 19 December due to security concerns.  No alternative date has so far been provided. The IAEA has previously this year been given access to three of the reactor roofs – of units 2, 3 and 4 – but not the others.

In addition, the IAEA team was once again not granted access to the north-western part of the turbine hall of reactor unit 5 during a walkdown there last Monday, despite a request made before the visit. The IAEA has not been able to visit the north-western part of any of the six turbine halls since mid-October.

The team continues to pay close attention to the maintenance situation at the plant, particularly the maintenance plan for next year, and also to the electrical equipment related to the safety systems of the reactor units following a power loss at unit 6 in mid-November. The IAEA experts have been informed that the 2024 maintenance plan is almost complete, but they have so far not been able to study it as requested.

An unannounced fire drill was conducted at the ZNPP site on Wednesday morning, following last week’s emergency communication exercise. The drill scenario involved a hypothetical oil leakage at the transformer of reactor unit 2, which resulted in a fire. The drill’s participants included regional, city and on-site fire departments. The IAEA team was only made aware of the drill afterwards.  

As usual in recent months, the IAEA team has continued to hear explosions from outside the ZNPP site, including six powerful blasts on Wednesday evening.

IAEA experts at the Rivne, Khmelnitsky, South Ukraine NPPs and the Chornobyl site continue to report that nuclear safety and security is being maintained despite challenging circumstances. A successful rotation of IAEA staff took place during the week at the Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky sites.

Last week, the IAEA arranged the 33rd delivery of nuclear safety and security-related equipment to Ukraine, using contributions from Australia. It was the first delivery under a new system requiring entities in Ukraine to register in the national electronic system as recipients of humanitarian aid.

 

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Last update: 21 Dec 2023

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