IAEA seeks early visit to assess radiation levels around Chernobyl

08 April 2022

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said it was of "paramount importance" to assist Ukraine in ensuring safety in the area - it follows footage of what appears to have been trenches dug by Russian forces in contaminated land in the exclusion zone.

The IAEA wants to restore automated monitoring data from Chernobyl (Image: ChNPP)

In its update on 7 April, the IAEA said it was "still not able to confirm reports last week of Russian forces receiving high doses of radiation while being in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone set up after the 1986 accident".

Drone footage published by Ukrainian authorities shows what they say are fortifications dug by Russian forces, who were in control of the area from 24 February until they left at the end of March. A film crew has also visited and posted footage of the area where the Russian forces were based. And Ukraine's nuclear power company Energoatom has also reported that the archives at Chernobyl, going back decades, had been destroyed.

Grossi said the IAEA needed to send its nuclear safety experts to the site to make their own assessment of the status of the Chernobyl plant and restore online monitoring there, which was interrupted at the start of the conflict.

"It is of paramount importance that the IAEA travels to Chernobyl so that we can take urgent action to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security there," he said. 

"I’m in close consultations with our Ukrainian counterparts to organise such a visit as soon as it is possible."

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said on 8 April that SSE Chernobyl NPP was in control of nuclear and radiation safety at the site and reported that "despite the increase in the level of radioactive contamination of the Chernobyl NPP site and the exclusion zone due to non-compliance with radiation safety and sanitation requirements", radiation conditions at the site and the equipment controlled by Chernobyl operational personnel were within safety limits.

Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants were reported on 8 April to be working within safety limits by Energoatom. Eight of the country’s 15 units are currently operating, with the others either shut for planned maintenance, or being held in reserve.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News