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Update 27 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria, posted at 21:50 CET

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that around half of the staff at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) had finally been able to rotate and return to their homes after working at the Russian-controlled site for nearly four weeks, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

Ukraine’s national regulator confirmed that the rotation of on-site personnel had begun in the morning and that those who had left had already been replaced by other Ukrainian staff.

Director General Grossi, who has expressed deep concern about the well-being of the Ukrainian staff at the site of the 1986 accident, welcomed the news about the partial rotation of personnel. He said they had been carrying out their important work tasks under immensely stressful and tiring conditions in the presence of foreign military forces and without proper rest.

The difficult staffing situation at the Chornobyl NPP over the past few weeks has put at risk one of seven indispensable nuclear safety pillars that he outlined earlier this month, which states that “operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure”.

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 radioactive waste management facilities are located. Before today’s rotation, the same work shift had been on-site since the day before the Russian forces entered the area.

“It is a positive – albeit long overdue – development that some staff at the Chornobyl NPP have now rotated and returned to their families. They deserve our full respect and admiration for having worked in these extremely difficult circumstances,” Director General Grossi said. “They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon.”

The challenging and uncertain situation at the Chornobyl NPP has underlined the importance of an IAEA initiative aimed at ensuring the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, the Director General said. He said he was continuing consultations with a view to agreeing on a framework for the delivery of IAEA assistance. “With this framework in place, the Agency would be able to provide effective technical assistance for the safe and secure operation of these facilities,” he said.

In southern Ukraine, the two operating units at the Zaporizhzhya NPP have gradually increased their power output to two thirds of their maximum capacity of around 1000 Megawatt electric (MWe) each after the repair last week of two power lines, one external and one on-site, the regulator said.

The Zaporizhzhya NPP now has three high voltage (750 kV) off-site power lines available, including one on standby. The regulator reiterated that the NPP’s safety systems were fully functional at the site, which is controlled by Russian forces since 4 March.

On the status of Ukraine’s four operational NPPs, the Ukrainian regulator said eight of the country’s 15 reactors remained operating, including the 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 and safety systems are operating, it said.

In relation to safeguards, the Agency said that the situation remained unchanged from that reported previously. 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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