Grossi welcomes release of Zaporizhzhia's director

03 October 2022

UPDATED International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has welcomed the release by Russian forces of Ihor Murashov, the director general of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. He had earlier warned his detention was "detrimental to nuclear safety and security" and said he hoped he "will return to his family safely and promptly and will be able to resume his important functions at the plant".

The IAEA has had a presence at Zaporizhzhia for the past month (Image: Energoatom)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the biggest in Europe with six reactors. It has been under the control of Russian military forces since early March but has continued to be operated by Energoatom’s Ukrainian staff. It is located near the frontline of the war.

Murashov was detained at 16:00 local time on Friday, according to Energoatom’s president Petro Kotin, and taken away to an unknown location. Kotin said the director general of the plant "bears the main responsibility for the nuclear radiation safety" and his detention "creates a danger" and demanded his "immediate release … and return to his duties maintaining the safe operation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant".

In his statement over the weekend, the IAEA’s Grossi said that the organisation had been told Murashov was in "temporary detention" and said the IAEA "hopes for a prompt and satisfactory resolution". He added: "Such a detention of any member of the plant staff would be a source of grave concern in itself, but also for its psychological impact and pressure on the rest of the staff which is detrimental to nuclear safety and security.

"His absence from duty in this way also has an immediate and serious impact on decision-making in ensuring the safety and security of the plant."

In a tweet on Monday, Grossi said Murashov had been released. "I have received confirmation that Mr Murashov has returned to his family safely," he said.

Grossi said that he continues efforts to establish a safety and security zone around the nuclear power plant, with the IAEA saying he hoped to travel to Ukraine and Russia over the course of this week. Ukraine says it is ready for further talks and to facilitate a rotation of IAEA staff at Zaporizhzhia, and calls for the withdrawal of Russian military troops and equipment from the nuclear power plant.

The Russian news agency Tass reported that the head of the military-civilian administration of Energodar, Alexander Volga told the Rossiya-24 TV channel: "We are looking forward to an opportunity to see" the IAEA’s Grossi "at the power plant to supply him with an update and to tell the whole truth about what is happening".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News