IAEA's Grossi in Ukraine for nuclear safety talks

29 March 2022

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is in Ukraine to "start delivering" the safety and security assistance Ukraine has requested for the country's nuclear facilities.

The visit was announced on the IAEA Twitter account (Image: @iaeaorg/Twitter)

The director general is holding talks with senior government officials about the proposed measures, which include sending IAEA experts to nuclear facilities, and the shipment of supplies including monitoring and emergency equipment.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear power reactors as well as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and exclusion zone, which houses radioactive waste management facilities following the 1986 accident.

Grossi, who will visit a nuclear power plant during his visit this week, said: "The military conflict is putting Ukraine's nuclear power plants and other facilities with radioactive material in unprecedented danger. We must take urgent action to make sure that they can continue to operate safely and securely and reduce the risk of a nuclear accident that could have a severe health and environmental impact both in Ukraine and beyond."

Russian forces have taken control of Chernobyl and Zaporozhe, Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant. Ukrainian staff continue to operate them but are said to have to get approval for decisions, and in Chernobyl the workers on site at the time of the takeover on 24 February were unable to be replaced by a new shift for 25 days. In other incidents during the war so far, a training building close to one of the Zaporozhe reactors was hit and badly damaged during shelling, and a building housing a research reactor in Kharkov has been damaged and offsite power was lost to Chernobyl for five days.

"Ukraine has requested our assistance for safety and security. We will now start delivering it. Ukraine has one of Europe’s largest nuclear power programmes. The IAEA's presence, where needed to ensure safety and security, is of paramount importance. We are ready to provide the necessary support now," the director general said.

Grossi held talks with the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey earlier this month as part of efforts to secure an agreement on measures to ensure the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The IAEA statement does not mention whether the visit to Ukraine this week is supported by Russia.

"There have already been several close calls. We can't afford to lose any more time. This conflict is already causing unimaginable human suffering and destruction. The IAEA's expertise and capabilities are needed to prevent it from also leading to a nuclear accident," said Grossi

In its latest update on Tuesday, Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said that all four of the country's nuclear power plants were continuing to operate within their normal safety limits.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News