Ukraine formally informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today about the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is controlled by Russian forces but still operated by its Ukrainian staff, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.
Ukraine said its nuclear specialists “continue to perform their duties and maintain, as far as possible during the war, the safety of the nuclear facilities” in the country.
Ukraine also said that Rosenergoatom – a unit of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom – had sent a group of nuclear specialists to the Zaporizhzhya NPP, naming eight. It said they demanded daily reports from plant management about “confidential issues” on the functioning of the NPP, covering aspects related to administration and management, maintenance and repair activities, security and access control, and management of nuclear fuel, spent fuel and radioactive wastes.
Ukraine separately informed the IAEA today that personnel at the Zaporizhzhya NPP – the country’s largest with six reactors – were “working under unbelievable pressure”.
Russian forces seized the plant on 4 March. Director General Grossi has repeatedly expressed concern about the extremely stressful and challenging work conditions for personnel at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during the conflict, especially at Zaporizhzhya and the Chernobyl site, which the Russian military controlled for five weeks before withdrawing on 31 March.
Earlier this month, Ukraine informed the IAEA that “the morale and the emotional state” of staff at Zaporizhzhya were “very low”.
In his summary report on nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine that was issued yesterday, Director General Grossi said the situation at Zaporizhzhya “continues to be challenging and requires continued attention owing to the presence of Russian forces and Rosatom personnel at the site while operational management remains with Ukrainian plant operators”.
The report added that although the IAEA continues to adjust its safeguards activities, the situation will become unsustainable. “Therefore, the Director General has proposed to lead a visit to the Zaporizhzhya NPP after the necessary consultations and at the earliest possible opportunity,” it said.
Separately today, Ukraine informed the IAEA that there had been no significant developments related to nuclear safety and security over the past 24 hours in the country.
Regarding the country’s 15 operational reactors at four nuclear power plants, Ukraine said seven are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, two at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP. The eight 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.
In relation to safeguards, the IAEA said that the remote transfer of safeguards data from the Chornobyl NPP to the Agency’s Vienna headquarters is gradually being restored after its technicians this week upgraded the unattended monitoring systems installed at the site and deployed new transmission channels based on satellite technologies. The transmission from Chornobyl had been interrupted for two months. For the four operational NPPs in Ukraine, remote data is being transferred to the IAEA.