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Update 80 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Dozens of radiation detectors are once again transmitting data from the area around the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after Ukraine succeeded in reviving a vital information link that was cut at the start of the conflict more than 100 days ago, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today.

The IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) on 6 June began receiving radiation measurements from the Exclusion Zone set up after the 1986 Chornobyl accident, marking the successful outcome of efforts to both restore the automated collection of such data and reconnect the local monitoring stations with the Agency’s International Radiation Monitoring Information System (IRMIS).

The radiation monitoring network in the area stopped functioning on 24 February, the first day of the conflict when Russian forces occupied the Chornobyl site and held it for five weeks before withdrawing on 31 March. The transmission of safeguards data from the NPP to IAEA headquarters was also lost at that time, but fully re-established four weeks ago.

IAEA experts visiting the area last week provided technical advice to their counterparts from the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Centre (UkrHMC) and the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) as they sought to restore the data gathering and transfer of the results to IRMIS, a web-based tool for voluntarily sharing radiation information with the IAEA and participating countries.

Most of the 39 detectors sending data from the Exclusion Zone – spanning 30 kilometres around the NPP – are now visible on the IRMIS map and updated as they were before the interruption, Director General Grossi said, adding that the measurements received so far indicated radiation levels in line with those measured before the conflict.

Effective on-site and off-site radiation monitoring is among the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security that the Director General outlined early during the conflict, several of which have been compromised in recent months.

“The resumption of radiation data transmission from the Exclusion Zone is a very positive step forward for nuclear safety and security in Ukraine. It ends a long period of virtual information blackout that created much uncertainty about the radiation situation in the area, especially when it was under Russian occupation,” he said. “I congratulate Ukraine for this important milestone, achieved with the help of the IAEA’s technical assistance.”

Director General Grossi has from the beginning of the conflict voiced grave concern about the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, establishing a comprehensive programme of assistance to help Ukraine reduce the risk of a severe nuclear accident.

The IAEA has so far sent three combined safety, security and safeguards missions to Ukraine, two of them personally led by the Director General. The Agency has also delivered equipment requested by Ukraine, including different types of radiation monitoring devices, and provided training and other technical advice.

In addition, the IAEA is coordinating international assistance to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and state entities through the overall mechanism of the Agency’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET), where countries can register their capabilities for support in areas ranging from radiation dose assessments and decontamination to nuclear installation assessment and advice, radioactive source search and recovery, and much else.

Eleven IAEA Member States registered in RANET have so far offered to provide specialised equipment to Ukraine, in response to a comprehensive request for equipment Ukraine said it needed for the safe and secure operation of its nuclear facilities. Ukraine’s list, submitted in late April, included radiation measurement devices, protective material, computer-related assistance, power supply systems and diesel generators, among other items.

The IAEA has now updated Ukraine’s list with details on the offers received and ongoing preparations for equipment procurement and delivery, with a focus on identifying priorities and avoiding duplications. The amended list has been posted on the IAEA’s Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE) – a 24/7 secure communication channel.

“I’m very encouraged by the generous offers in terms of equipment and extrabudgetary contributions that we have received. I’m confident that more countries registered in RANET will come forward and provide the assistance Ukraine has requested and needs to help prevent the very real danger of a nuclear incident,” Director General Grossi said.

Underlining the potential risks facing Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, the country informed the IAEA on 5 June that a cruise missile was observed flying above the South Ukraine NPP. “If a missile goes astray near a nuclear power plant, it could have a severe impact on its physical integrity, potentially leading to a nuclear accident,” the Director General said, reiterating concerns he has voiced previously regarding such events. One of the seven safety and security pillars says that “the physical integrity of the facilities – whether it is the reactors, fuel ponds, or radioactive waste stores – must be maintained”.

Ukraine also told the IAEA this week, when asked about the spare parts situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya NPP (ZNPP), that “supply chains are disrupted or lost, and stocks of consumables and spare parts are reduced in the repair and maintenance processes”. According to the operator, however, “a reserve of consumables and spare parts was created at ZNPP to maintain nuclear safety,” Ukraine said. One of the safety pillars calls for “uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the sites”.

Regarding the country’s operational reactors, Ukraine told the IAEA today that eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the ZNPP, 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. Safety systems remain operational at the four NPPs, and they also continue to have off-site power available, Ukraine said.

With respect to safeguards, the IAEA is continuing technical attempts, with the assistance of the operator, to re-establish the transmission of remote safeguards data to IAEA headquarters from the ZNPP that stopped on 30 May. The IAEA continues to receive safeguards data from its systems installed at the other three operational NPPs in Ukraine and from the Chornobyl NPP.


Last update: 07 May 2024

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