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Update 47 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria, posted at 18:10 CEST

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that it was gradually restoring regulatory control of nuclear and radiation safety at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) but that the site was still lacking personnel for maintenance and repair work that was halted when Russia took control of the plant in late February, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

Providing an update about the situation at the Chornobyl NPP after Russian forces withdrew from the site last week, Ukraine said that despite “the increase in the level of radioactive contamination …  due to non-conformity with requirements of radiation safety and strict access procedures”, the radiation situation is “within the limits” for the site.

Ukrainian National Guards are ensuring physical protection at the site of the 1986 accident, where various radioactive waste management facilities are located, it said.

However, it had not yet been possible to restore the operation of radiation and other sensors due to the absence of required maintenance and other specialised staff, Ukraine said. It added that this situation may also “lead to the failure of other systems and components important to safety” and that the inoperability of the equipment makes the comprehensive monitoring of key safety parameters at the site more complicated. NPP management was aiming to ensure staff rotation and to send additional personnel there for repairs, it said.

Director General Grossi said Ukraine’s update further underlined the necessity for IAEA nuclear safety, security and safeguards experts to travel to the Chornobyl NPP as soon as it is possible. In close coordination and consultation with Ukraine, the IAEA is developing assistance packages and finalizing logistical preparations for sending several such missions to Chornobyl and other nuclear sites in the country in the coming weeks.

The IAEA is aware of recent media reports about the situation at the Chornobyl NPP and the Exclusion Zone set up after the accident, but its experts can only conduct a radiological assessment at the site and deliver required safety-related equipment to the plant when they go there, the Director General said.

Apart from the new information about Chornobyl, Ukraine said there had been no other developments related to nuclear safety and security over the past 24 hours.

Regarding Ukraine’s 15 operational reactors at four sites, eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP. The seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance 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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