IAEA Pressing For Zaporizhzhya Safety Zone

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency remains both vigilant and engaged in negotiating safety protocols for Ukraine’s war-threatened Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, learning this week that Ukrainian operators plans to restart Unit 5 to produce heat and steam for the plant itself.

Zaporizhzhya NPPIAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is scheduled to visit Kyiv this week, then proceed to Russia in attempts to implement a security protection zone around the plant – Europe’s largest nuclear power facility. Currently, while reports of nearby shellfire have raised global concerns over a serious accident at Zaporizhzhya, the plant is technically held by Russian forces while being operated by Ukrainian technicians.

One of seven mandates Grossi has recommended includes the standard that the “operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have ethe capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure.”

The Director General has repeatedly expressed grave concern about the extremely stressful and challenging working conditions at the ZNPP during the current military conflict.

The six reactors at the plant are are currently all in cold shutdown. Senior Ukrainian operating staff informed IAEA experts present at the ZNPP that preparations are under way to start unit 5 at reduced power to produce steam and heat for the needs of the plant. It will take some time to complete all preparations, including those related to necessary systems and equipment, before reactor operations can resume, the IAEA said.

The ZNPP’s last operating reactor – unit 6 – was shut down on 11 September. It had provided the ZNPP with electricity for cooling and other essential safety functions since 7 September, when the plant lost all external high voltage power supplies. But the operator shut down the reactorafter the restoration of external power to the plant.

The IAEA team in Ukraine also reported that there had been shelling yesterday in an industrial area located between the ZNPP and the town of Enerhodar, but the plant site itself was not affected by the barrage.

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