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Update 22 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria, posted at 18:50 CET

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) had been re-connected to the national electricity grid and no longer relied on emergency diesel generators for power, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The site of the 1986 accident lost all off-site power on 9 March and was forced to resort to diesel fuel for back-up electricity. Ukrainian specialist teams succeeded on the weekend to repair one of two damaged lines linking the plant to the power network.

From 16:45 CET on 14 March, this line has been providing all the required power to the NPP and the diesel generators have been switched off, Ukraine’s regulatory authority said today. It is also supplying electricity to the nearby city of Slavutich. It remains unclear whether it will be possible to repair the second high-voltage power line, the regulator added.

Russian forces took control of the Chornobyl NPP on 24 February, but its Ukrainian staff have continued to manage day-to-day operations at the site, where various radioactive waste management facilities are located.

The site’s 211 technical personnel and guards have not been able to rotate since the day before the Russian forces entered the area, in effect living there for the past three weeks. Director General Grossi said they were working “under enormous stress without the necessary rest”. The regulator said there was no information whether and when a shift change would be possible.

In addition, the regulator said for the first time today that information it received regarding Chornobyl was “controlled by the Russian military forces” and therefore it could not “always provide detailed answers to all” of the IAEA’s questions. This was also the case regarding the Zaporizhzhya NPP, controlled by Russian forces since 4 March.

Director General Grossi has repeatedly expressed deep concern about the difficulties facing NPP staff, saying it was compromising one of seven indispensable nuclear safety pillars he outlined earlier this month, stating that “operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure”.

The challenging staffing situation, together with the now addressed power cuts at Chornobyl and communication issues in recent weeks, underscores the urgency of agreeing and implementing an IAEA initiative aimed at ensuring the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, he said.

The regulatory authority said staff at the Zaporizhzhya NPP confirmed reports that the Russian military had detonated unexploded munitions left on the site following events on 4 March. The staff was not informed beforehand, it added. The regulator has in recent days told the IAEA about ongoing work to detect and dispose of unexploded munitions found at the damaged training centre and elsewhere at the NPP.

In the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, shelling in the area forced staff to temporarily leave a new nuclear research facility that has previously been hit, the regulator said, adding that they later returned and restored power supplies to safety systems. The facility is used for research and development and radioisotope production for medical and industrial applications. Because its nuclear material is subcritical and the inventory of radioactive material is very low, the IAEA has assessed that the reported damage would not have had any radiological consequence.

On the status of Ukraine’s four operational nuclear power plants, the regulator said eight of the country’s 15 reactors remained operating, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine. The radiation levels at all NPPs are in the normal range, it said.

In relation to safeguards, the Agency said that the situation remained unchanged from that reported earlier this week. The Agency was still not receiving remote data transmission from its monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP, but such data was being transferred to IAEA headquarters from the other NPPs in Ukraine.


Last update: 07 May 2024

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