Teams of nuclear safety and security experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are being stationed at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the Chornobyl site this week, the U.N.'s atomic industry watchdog said. "Their planned long-term presence at the facilities marks a major expansion in the IAEA’s efforts to help reduce the risk of a severe nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict in the country."
On Tuesday, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi launched the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Rivne (ISAMIR) at a flag-raising ceremony at this plant in western Ukraine, a day after he deployed a similar team, ISAMISU, at the South Ukraine NPP an eight-hour drive away.
The director general also held talks with Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear power company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, and the head of Ukraine’s regulatory body, Oleh Korikov.
Safety concerns in Ukraine have been a top IAEA priority since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last February.
On the director general's docket this week was the inauguration of the the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Chornobyl (ISAMICH), site of the 1986 accident in northern Ukraine. In addition, an expert mission will also be deployed at the Khmelnitsky NPP in the near future.
The IAEA already has a permanent presence of up to four experts at Ukraine’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhya.
“With our experts’ presence at Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities and at the Chornobyl site, we are intensifying and deepening our technical activities to help prevent a nuclear accident during the terrible and tragic war in Ukraine,” Director General Grossi said, after the IAEA flag was hoisted at the Rivne NPP as a symbol of the Agency’s presence.
In the latest incident highlighting the persistent nuclear safety and security risks in Ukraine, the South Ukraine, Rivne and Khmelnitsky NPPs reduced their power output during the weekend as a precautionary measure while the country’s energy infrastructure was under missile attack. The power levels have since been restored, according to information from Ukraine.
In another incident over the weekend, Ukraine reported that missile attacks on Kyiv caused a fire in a warehouse on the site of the Kyiv Research Institute. The site holds a defueled research reactor, the core of which is stored in a spent fuel storage facility on the site. No personnel were injured. Radiation monitoring was performed and no changes were measured.
At the ZNPP yesterday, the sole 330 kilovolt (kV) back-up line – which has suffered repeated cuts in recent weeks – was disconnected for a few hours to allow for maintenance to be carried out. It is now connected again. The plant – where six reactors are in shutdown – continues to receive off-site power for nuclear safety and security functions from its last remaining operational 750 kV power line. The general nuclear safety and security situation at the plant remains precarious, Director General Grossi said.
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