The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday concluded a mission to Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and the surrounding Exclusion Zone after carrying out planned nuclear safety, security and safeguards activities there, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.
This week’s mission – the IAEA’s second to the Chernobyl site in the past six weeks – was part of efforts to help ensure nuclear safety and security in Ukraine during the current military conflict. Ukraine, which also has four operating NPPs with a total of 15 reactors, has requested the IAEA’s technical assistance for this purpose.
During their three-day stay at the Chernobyl NPP and the Exclusion Zone set up after the 1986 accident, IAEA experts provided support to their Ukrainian counterparts on radiation protection, safety of waste management and nuclear security, Director General Grossi said.
In addition, IAEA safeguards staff conducted verification activities that had been planned as part of the annual implementation plan established by the Agency, he said.
The Chernobyl NPP was controlled by Russian forces for five weeks before they withdrew on 31 March.
“The IAEA has from the beginning of the conflict been focused on providing technical support to Ukraine and its nuclear facilities during these extremely difficult and challenging times for the country,” Director General Grossi said. “This week’s combined IAEA safety, security and safeguards mission succeeded in achieving all its objectives, despite the significant logistical challenges in travelling and working in Ukraine. It was the third such mission to Ukraine since the conflict began and it will be followed by others in the coming weeks and months.”
Director General Grossi personally led two previous safety, security and safeguards missions to Ukraine, travelling to the South Ukraine NPP in late March and to Chernobyl a month later. This week’s mission consisted of a team of seven IAEA staff members.
During the mission, staff members of the IAEA Department of Safety and Security:
- Visited the main facilities for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel to discuss and assess their status with staff there and to identify areas for future support.
- Provided training on the radiation monitoring equipment delivered by the IAEA in April, verified the radiation protection programme in all facilities at the Chernobyl NPP and the Exclusion Zone and identified actions for further enhancements.
- Observed the physical protection arrangements at nuclear, spent fuel, waste and radioactive material facilities located in the same area and identified potential areas of cooperation.
- Provided support on emergency preparedness and response and discussed the additional assistance that could be provided through the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET) mechanism.
- Discussed the re-establishment of the automated radiation monitoring system and received information on the forthcoming connection of this system with the IAEA International Radiation Monitoring Information System (IRMIS).
Separately, staff members of the IAEA Department of Safeguards:
- Verified declared nuclear material and activities at facilities selected by the IAEA.
- Checked the functioning of the remote safeguards data transmission from the Chernobyl NPP to IAEA headquarters which was re-established at the end of April after two months of interruption.
- Upgraded the installed remote safeguards data transmission systems.
The Director General is now also continuing his efforts to organize an IAEA mission to Ukraine’s largest NPP, Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya, to carry out important nuclear safety, security and safeguards activities at this site in the country’s south.
Ukraine separately informed the IAEA today that there had been no significant developments related to nuclear safety and security in the country over the past 24 hours.
Regarding the country’s operational reactors, Ukraine said eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP. The seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve. Safety systems remain operational at the four NPPs, and they also continue to have off-site power available, Ukraine said.
With respect to safeguards, the transmission of remote safeguards data to IAEA headquarters from the Zaporizhzhya NPP stopped on 30 May. With the assistance of the operator, the IAEA is continuing technical attempts to re-establish the data transmission. The IAEA continues to receive safeguards data from its systems installed at the other three operational NPPs in Ukraine.