IAEA staff observe emergency drill at Zaporizhzhia

17 May 2024

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi says that regular drills and exercises at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant "are especially important in view of the extraordinary risks it is currently facing".

There have been IAEA staff on site since September 2022 (Image: IAEA)

In his latest update on the situation at the six-unit plant, which has been under Russian military control since early March 2022, IAEA Director General Grossi said: "The IAEA will remain present at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) for as long as it is needed. The nuclear safety and security situation at the plant remains extremely precarious and challenging. Thanks to our experts at the site, we can inform the world about developments there. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep this major nuclear facility safe and secure."

Each team of IAEA staff spend roughly a month at a time there. The latest changeover - the 19th since the first team arrived in September 2022 - took place on Thursday, with the journey for those arriving and leaving involving crossing the frontline of Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Grossi said that over recent days the members of the team performed walks within the perimeter of the plant and other buildings to monitor adherence to the UN-backed principles that nuclear power plants should not be fired at, or from, or be used as a base for heavy military weaponry and equipment.

The update said: "They did not observe any heavy weapons or indications that drones could have been launched from the ZNPP. However, the IAEA experts are still not permitted to access all areas of the ZNPP."

On Wednesday, the IAEA experts at the plant observed an emergency drill take place, based on the scenario of damage to a pipe connected to one of the sprinkler ponds providing cooling water to cool unit 1 and its safety systems. The exercise involved plant staff pumping water into the sprinkler pond and repairing the damaged pipe while also ensuring safety systems and back up generators remained operational. "The IAEA team’s opinion was that the exercise was well organised and that the personnel responded effectively," the update said.

Grossi added: "It is essential for all nuclear facilities to have effective emergency preparedness and response arrangements. For this purpose, regular drills and exercises are necessary. Clearly, for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, they are especially important in view of the extraordinary risks it is currently facing."

IAEA teams at the other nuclear power plants in Ukraine reported nuclear safety and security being maintained, although the team at Rivne NPP reported that attacks on the energy infrastructure elsewhere in Ukraine "had resulted in instability in the back-up power lines connected to the plant".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News