You are here

Update 230 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with senior Russian officials this week as part of the continuing efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help prevent a nuclear accident at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).

During Tuesday’s meeting in Kaliningrad with Alexey Likhachev, head of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Director General Grossi again raised those factors that the IAEA believes remain a real challenge for nuclear safety. Specifically, these include the vulnerability of the ZNPP’s off-site power lines, its need for reliable water supplies to ensure reactor cooling and other essential functions, and the situation related to staffing and equipment maintenance.

As Director General Grossi has repeatedly stressed, the IAEA must engage with both Ukraine and the Russian Federation on matters related to nuclear safety and security, which remains precarious, especially at the ZNPP.

“The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is continuing to face serious nuclear safety and security risks. We can’t afford to let our guard down for a single minute,” Director General Grossi said after the meeting in the Russian city. “In view of these challenging and unprecedented circumstances – with Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in a war zone – there is an understanding that its six reactors should remain in cold shutdown for the time being.”

“Even with all six reactors in cold shutdown, plant safety and security remain extremely fragile. Any decision to re-start the ZNPP's reactors in the future – when it is safe to do so – must be preceded by a very careful and detailed examination of all operational and regulatory aspects relevant for nuclear safety and security to ensure that the plant is not further put in jeopardy,” he said.

On the ground at the ZNPP, the IAEA experts stationed at the site have continued to hear explosions on most days over the past week, normally at distances away from the plant. However, on Sunday, the team was awakened by four explosions near the site. The ZNPP informed the team that there was no damage to the plant.

Also this week, the IAEA experts have conducted regular walkdowns to monitor nuclear safety and security, including ongoing and planned maintenance activities on parts of the safety systems, such as the emergency core cooling system of the unit 1 reactor, and on the main electrical transformer of unit 2.

The IAEA team visited the ZNPP’s maintenance workshop, where they were told that all machines are in operational condition and able to perform necessary maintenance tasks.

During a visit to the reactor building and safety systems rooms of unit 4, the IAEA experts observed equipment including steam generators and the main cooling pumps. They noted that generally the housekeeping was good, but they did observe some oil on the floor of the reactor hall coming from the overhead cranes, as well as boron deposits on the floors of some of the safety systems rooms, which are not uncommon for such facilities. The ZNPP confirmed these would be addressed through cleaning and maintenance.

Over the past week, the IAEA team also observed the successful performance of routine testing of emergency diesel generators of units 4 and 6.

The experts visited four levels of the turbine building of unit 5 where they observed the status of different types of equipment, including the main feedwater pumps, main steam valves and the main condenser, but once again were denied access to the western side of the building.

The IAEA experts also met with the site’s Chemistry Control Division, where they were informed of the technological process used for water treatment and were also told that all necessary consumables and chemical reagents have been supplied from the Russian Federation. The team was further informed that the division has sufficient staff, including personnel that have come from Russian nuclear power plants (NPPs).

While visiting the ZNPP’s thermal mechanical warehouse, the IAEA team saw its diesel generator spare parts and electrical equipment. The team observed spare parts from various manufacturers, including from Western suppliers before the conflict, as well as some from the Russian Federation. The ZNPP informed the team that it had completed its transition to a Russian-based spare parts and equipment database.

The IAEA experts also went to the temporary shelters located inside each reactor building, which were established by the ZNPP in 2022 due to the unavailability of the original shelters. The team was informed that up to 1000 people can be sheltered on site in these temporary shelters.

As the summer approaches, the warmer temperatures and drier climate have contributed to wildfires in the areas around the ZNPP. Late last week, the IAEA experts could both see and smell smoke from what the ZNPP said was a forest fire on the other side of the Dnipro river. On Tuesday, the IAEA team saw a wildfire south of the 750 kilovolt (kV) open switchyard, but it appeared to have been extinguished later in the week and did not cause any damage to electrical systems.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the IAEA experts present at the Khelmnytskyy, Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs and the Chornobyl site reported that nuclear safety and security is being maintained despite the effects of the ongoing conflict, including air raid alarms on several days over the past week.

Over the past week, two reactor units at the Rivne NPP successfully re-started after the planned outages for refuelling and maintenance were safely completed ahead of schedule. The Rivne NPP now has three units in full power operation, while the fourth reactor is being prepared for shutdown for planned refuelling and maintenance. Meanwhile, the planned maintenance activities at one of the reactor units at the South Ukraine NPP are continuing according to schedule.

The IAEA continues with the delivery of much-needed equipment and supplies for maintaining nuclear safety and security in Ukraine. This week, the Agency organized two deliveries of nuclear safety and security equipment to Ukraine, bringing the total number of deliveries to 49 since the start of the armed conflict. The KhNPP, SUNPP and USIE Izotop – a Ukrainian state enterprise involved in the management of radioactive material intended for medical, industrial and other purposes – received physical protection equipment and atmospheric probing systems. The equipment was procured using extrabudgetary contributions from the European Union and the United Kingdom.


Last update: 30 May 2024

Stay in touch