Grossi issues fresh call for restraint around Zaporizhzhia plant

22 February 2024

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has reiterated his call for "maximum restraint and strict observance" of the UN-backed safety principles at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant because of the "continued volatile situation".

Grossi visited Zaporizhzhia earlier this month (Image: IAEA)

In a statement issued by the Vienna-based agency, Grossi "emphasised the need to protect, at all times, the physical integrity" of the plant "and avoid any attack or military activity that could impact the safety and security of the facility".

Also on Wednesday, the director general said that there had been a loss of connection to its one remaining back-up external power line at 14:04 local time, due to a problem which occurred across the Dnipro river some 13.5 kilometres away. The cause of the disconnection was not immediately known.

Although external power to the plant was not lost, the lack of back-up power options was a cause of serious concern he said, adding that "the extremely vulnerable off-site power situation continues to pose significant safety and security challenges for this major nuclear facility".

The six-unit Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian military control since early March 2022, and it is situated close to the front line. Five of the units are in cold shut down and one in "hot shutdown" where it is producing heat for the plant and the nearby town of Energodar. Those running it said that the continued operation of the main power line means safety operations had not been impactd by the loss the back-up line.

Ukraine's Ministry of Energy said on Thursday that restoration work on the damaged overhead high-voltage power transmission line, which provided a back-up power supply for the nuclear plant, was taking place but was complicated by constant shelling.

Grossi visited the nuclear power plant earlier this month to assess the security and safety situation for himself. He also held talks in Kiev with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and he is expected to visit Russia in the next week for talks as he continues efforts to ensure the safety of Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine says that the 20th rotation of International Atomic Energy Agency experts at the Rivne, South Ukrainian and Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant has taken place, together with a 22nd rotation of those at the Chernobyl site.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News