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Update 42 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine


Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that “the morale and the emotional state” of staff working at the country’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) were “very low” a month after Russian military forces seized the site, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. 

The Director General has repeatedly expressed grave concern about the extremely stressful and challenging work conditions for personnel operating Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during the conflict, especially at the Zaporizhzhya NPP and the Chernobyl site, which Russian forces controlled for five weeks before their withdrawal last Thursday.

This unprecedented NPP staffing situation has seriously compromised one of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security 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”.

“It is unacceptable and unsustainable that staff are working under circumstances that could severely affect their wellbeing and so have a negative impact on the safe and secure operation of these nuclear facilities,” Director General Grossi said. “As I said during my visit to the South Ukraine NPP last week, the staff there and at the other Ukrainian nuclear sites deserve our deep admiration and sincere gratitude for their resilience and determination in carrying out their important work duties.”

In the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine informed the IAEA yesterday evening that an unexploded ordnance spotted late last month near a nuclear research facility on closer inspection turned out to be the body of a rocket without its explosive tip and therefore did not pose a danger. The facility still has no power because of previous damage to its electrical transformer, it said, adding shelling in the area made it difficult to restore electricity. The facility was used for research and development and radioisotope production for medical and industrial applications. Its nuclear material is subcritical and the radioactive inventory is low.

At the Chornobyl NPP, preparations for the next staff rotation are continuing, including the assessment of security for personnel there, Ukraine said.

Out of the country’s operational reactors, Ukraine said seven were operating, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, and two at South Ukraine. The other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance, including both units at the Khmelnytskyy NPP, or held in reserve.

In relation to safeguards, the IAEA 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.

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