You are here

Update 8 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria, posted at 18:21 CET

Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that staff who have been kept at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) since Russian military forces took control of the site a week ago were facing “psychological pressure and moral exhaustion”, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said, stressing that they must be allowed to rest and rotate so that their crucial work can be carried out safely and securely.

This was part of a joint appeal to the IAEA Director General, received today, from the Ukraine Government, regulatory authority and the national operator which added that personnel at the Chornobyl site “have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work”.

They also confirmed to the Director General that Ukraine has lost regulatory control over all the facilities in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, and asked the IAEA to undertake measures “in order to reestablish legal regulation of safety of nuclear facilities and installations within the Chernobyl NPP site and within the Exclusion Zone”. The Director General said earlier this week that he was conducting consultations in order to address a request from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) for immediate assistance to ensure the safety of the Chornobyl NPP and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

In a separate technical update to the IAEA today, the SNRIU reported that power from one of the two off-site power transmission lines supplying electricity to the site was lost overnight. This power line does not provide power to safety-related equipment. Neverthless, due to this loss of power, there were difficulties in carrying out routine maintenance and repair of some safety-critical equipment, SNRIU said.

Due to time elapsed since the 1986 Chornobyl accident, the heat load of the spent fuel storage pool and the volume of cooling water contained in the pool is sufficient to maintain effective heat removal without the need for electrical supply.

Furthermore, the site has back-up emergency diesel generators available should there be a total loss of power.

The event highlights once again why Director General Grossi has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided.

“I remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, especially about the country’s nuclear power plants, which must be able to continue operating without any safety or security threats,” he said. “Any accident caused as a result of the military conflict could have extremely serious consequences for people and the environment, in Ukraine and beyond.”

The Chornobyl NPP has been undergoing decommissioning since the accident and significant amounts of nuclear material remain in various facilities at the site in the form of spent fuel and other radioactive waste.

At a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors on Wednesday, Director General Grossi stressed the “utmost importance that the staff working at the Specialized Enterprise Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant are able to do their job safely and effectively, and that their personal wellbeing is guaranteed by those who have taken control”. Operating staff at all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure, he added in his Board statement.

Ukraine also has 15 operational nuclear reactors at four sites in the country, providing roughly half of its electricity, which SNRIU reported today continue to operate normally.

The IAEA continues to closely monitor developments in Ukraine, with a special focus on the safety and security of its nuclear power reactors. The IAEA remains in constant contact with its counterpart and will continue to provide regular updates on the situation in Ukraine.


Last update: 07 May 2024

Stay in touch