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Update 211 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts are continuing to closely monitor the staffing situation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

Earlier this week, on 13 February, the IAEA team visited the ZNPP’s training centre and its simulators, where they observed staff training, including main control room operators receiving additional simulator training for other units than those where they were working. The IAEA experts were informed that the ZNPP is extending these operators’ "authorizations" to all six reactor units. In the past, the ZNPP had two types of licences for its main control room operators, one for units 1 to 4 and another for units 5 and 6.

The following day, on 14 February, the IAEA experts observed Rostekhnadzor, the Russian nuclear regulator, inspecting authorizations of operating staff at the main control rooms of units 2, 3, and 4. The IAEA team was informed of new “regulations” for the ZNPP, issued by the Russian Federation, which stipulates that units in cold shutdown must have at least three staff in their main control rooms, a requirement rising to four when the unit is in hot shutdown (currently unit 4). The IAEA team confirmed observance of these staffing requirements in units 2, 3 and 4.

The team was also informed of refresher training requirements for operators including psychological assessments. The training centre currently has 119 of an original 260 instructors who provide training in different fields, also including radiation and fire protection. The ZNPP has told the IAEA experts that there are enough certified personnel at the plant and that all essential positions are fully filled.

“The staffing situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant has been one of my main concerns related to nuclear safety and security at the site, including the extremely stressful work environment in war conditions. The number of staff has more than halved over the past two years. Despite the site’s shutdown status, it still needs enough qualified staff. Our experts have this week acquired more information on the training of staff, a crucial issue that they will continue to follow closely,” Director General Grossi said.

Separately this week, the IAEA experts were in Enerhodar to assess damage that the Russian Federation said was caused by drone attacks on the town where many ZNPP staff live a few kilometres from the site.

In line with its mandate to monitor compliance with the five concrete principles for protecting the ZNPP, the IAEA team requested access and went to Enerhodar yesterday, hours after the plant informed them that four drone attacks took place there the previous afternoon. There were no casualties reported.

The experts were escorted to two of the four alleged attack sites. At one site, the Enerhodar City Hall which neighbours a ZNPP administrative building used for communications, the experts observed significant damage to the façade of the City Hall building, including some damaged windows, as well as rubble from the building. However, the team did not observe any remnants of the drone, which had reportedly been removed, and was therefore not able to confirm whether the damage observed was directly related to a drone attack the previous day, or is the result of damage sustained previously.

At the other site, a school garden, the IAEA experts observed a broken window. There were no remnants of the drone, which the team were informed had been removed before their arrival.

Over the past week, the IAEA experts have continued to hear explosions some distance away from the ZNPP, a constant reminder of the potential risks to nuclear safety and security. In line with the five concrete principles, Director General Grossi reiterates his call on all parties to refrain from any military action that could pose a threat to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP).

At the ZNPP site, the IAEA experts continued to conduct walkdowns, including of the reactor hall, safety systems rooms, turbine hall, and emergency diesel generators of reactor unit 2.

The team observed a lubrication oil spill near a spent fuel pool cooling pump and a water leak on another pump of the same safety system. The ZNPP subsequently informed the IAEA experts that the oil spill had been cleaned. The IAEA experts continue to follow these matters.

The team was again not given access to the western part of the turbine hall of unit 2.

The IAEA team also reported that the site’s four new diesel steam generators were turned off last week as the existing wastewater had been treated. The team was informed that they will be restarted once sufficient additional wastewater accumulates for processing.

The plant’s nine mobile diesel boilers remain switched off due to the recent warmer temperatures. District heating is being provided by the large boilers located at the Zaporizhzhya thermal power plant and the industrial area, and from unit 4 which remains in hot shutdown.

The teams at the other four nuclear plant sites in Ukraine continue to perform their activities despite frequent air alarms. The team at Khmelnytskyy NPP (KhNPP) was required to take shelter on 9 February and again five days later and the team at the Rivne NPP took shelter on 15 February. The IAEA experts at the Chornobyl site rotated this week, with the 22nd such team now at the site.

The IAEA is also continuing to support nuclear safety and security in Ukraine by delivering equipment and other assistance. This week, spectrometers to be used to identify and analyse radionuclide composition in samples, and laboratory equipment to assist in the safe handling of hazardous material were procured with extrabudgetary funding from Japan and the European Union. The KhNPP and the South Ukraine NPP were the recipients of this equipment. Additional quantities of spectrometers were also procured for Ukraine and are expected to be delivered during the year. This week’s delivery was the 37th since the conflict began two years ago.



Last update: 07 May 2024

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