- Ukraine / IAEA’s Grossi Tells UN ‘Time Is Of Essence’ at Occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP
- G7 Demands Russia Hand Over Zaporizhzhia
- Global Nuclear Community Calls for Immediate IAEA Access to Zaporizhzhia NPP
IAEA Briefs UN Security Council on Zaporizhzhia NPP
(NucNet contributed to this report) IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi told the United Nations Security Council this week that the current situation at the six unit Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine is ‘alarming,’ and he renewed his agency’s call for experts to assess on-site the safety and security at the nuclear power station. The plant is Europe’s largest with six 1,000 MWe Russian built VVERs.
Grossi said the IAEA has been ready since June to provide a “stabilizing” onsite presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine, but due to political factors and ongoing military hostilities, a mission has not been possible. He added, “we cannot allow such factors to delay us any longer. Time is of the essence.”
Grossi said “IAEA experts would assess physical damage at the six-unit Zaporizhzhia, to determine if main and backup safety and security systems are functional, and evaluate working conditions of control room staff.
“A mission would also allow us to perform urgent safeguards work,” he said.
Based on most recent information provided by Ukraine, IAEA experts have made a preliminary assessment from the IAEA office in Vienna, Austria, that there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of the shelling or other recent military actions. However, Grossi warned that this could change at any moment.
“I remain very concerned about situation at Zaporizhzhia and reiterate that any military actions jeopardizing nuclear safety and security must stop immediately. These military actions near such a large nuclear facility could have serious consequences.”
Another key issue Grossi said is that, “the plant has limited availability of offsite power due to damage from the shelling last week.”
The loss of external power from the regional grid could cause what is known as a “station blackout.” Emergency diesel generators would supply power for as long as their fuel lasts, but if they fail, there will be loss of the operation of cooling systems in the reactors which could lead to a nuclear emergency.
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over the status of the site have not reported much progress. Russian forces have made claims they plan to disconnect the plant from the Ukraine regional electrical grid and send the power to Crimea. So far no actions along these lines have taken place. The New York Times reported on 08/12/22 and also on 08/13/22 intermittent shelling in the area around the site by Russian forces with some damage to non-nuclear plant equipment.
On Saturday morning 8/13, two of the station’s six units were operating and the radiation situation was normal, Ukraine told the IAEA.
Russian Military Actions Continue to Damage the Plant
Ukraine said shelling on 08/12/22 damaged the facility’s external power supply system, but that two power lines remained operational. The shelling also triggered the emergency protection system of one of the station’s three operating reactors. Ukraine said renewed Russian shelling on 08/13/22 damaged three radiation sensors and hurt a worker at station.
Ukraine told the IAEA that there had been no damage to the reactors themselves, no radiological release and no reports of injuries. However, it said a nitrogen-oxygen station, which supports plant operations, and an auxiliary building were damaged. Firefighters had quickly extinguished a fire at the nitrogen-oxygen station, but it still needs to be repaired, Ukraine said. The IAEA said it has also received information about shelling near the dry cask spent fuel storage facility.
International Concerns Mount about Status of Zaporizhzhia NPP
UN secretary general António Guterres called for international inspectors to be given access to Zaporizhzhia after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the shelling of the facility.
“Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told a news conference in Japan.
Guterres said the IAEA needed access to the facility. “We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilization of the plant,” Guterres said.
Europe’s energy commissioner Kadri Simson joined condemnation of shelling at and around Zaporizhzhia, which she said had “caused significant damage to infrastructure, including near the dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel within the nuclear power plant perimeter.”
A State Department spokesman said the United States supported a demilitarized zone around the nuclear plant and called on Russia to cease military operations on its grounds or nearby.
Russia Is Waging ‘Nuclear Terror’ – Zelenskiy
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of waging “nuclear terror” that warranted more international sanctions, this time on Moscow’s nuclear sector. “There is no such nation in the world that could feel safe when a terrorist state fires at a nuclear plant,” Zelenskiy said in a televised address.
On social media Zelenskiy said he had talked with Charles Michel, president of the European council, and told him about the situation on the battlefield, in particular at Zaporizhzhia. “Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger response from the international community – sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel.”
Energoatom Calls For Military-Free Zone
The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station to be made a military-free zone, warning of the risk of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster after the site was hit by shelling.
Petro Kotin called for a team of peacekeepers to be deployed at the site. “The decision that we demand from the world community and all our partners… is to withdraw the invaders from the territory of the station and create a demilitarized zone on the territory of the station,” Mr Kotin said on television. He added that Russian forces have placed some of their weapons between the reactors to use them as shields against return fire from Ukraine’s forces.
Energoatom said on Telegram that the periodic shelling of Zaporizhzhia by Russian troops with anti-aircraft missiles had caused “a serious risk to the safe operation of the plant”. The company said: “Given that it is impossible to predict the actions of invaders, the threat to the station’s physical security remains.”
While under Russian control, the facility is operated by about 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, who are tasked with keeping the plant safely running while facing harsh conditions from occupying Russian forces.
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G7 Demands Russia Hand Over Zaporizhzhia
(WNN) G7 foreign ministers have demanded Russia “hand back full control” of the plant “to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine”.
The foreign ministers of the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and USA – said “we demand that Russia immediately hand back full control to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine, of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as well as of all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders to ensure their safe and secure operations … it is Russia’s continued control of the plant that endangers the region”.
It added: “We underline the importance of facilitating a mission of IAEA experts to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to address nuclear safety, security and safeguard concerns, in a manner that respects full Ukrainian sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure.”
World Nuclear Association, which represents the global nuclear industry, issued a statement condemning the shelling and called “on all parties to immediately cease all hostilities in the vicinity of the plant.
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Global Nuclear Community Calls for Immediate IAEA Aaccess to Zaporizhzhia NPP
Representatives of nuclear industry trade associations and professional societies have issued the following statement regarding the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine: (full text follows below)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be granted immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to assess the well-being of staff there as well as the ongoing safety of the facilities. The IAEA mission should be guaranteed safe conduct across the military line of contact in southern Ukraine by both Ukraine and Russia.
We note that the Zaporizhzhia facility has robust reactor and plant designs, and that operating staff have done their utmost to maintain all safety protocols. We would like to draw the world’s attention to the outstanding courage and extraordinary dedication of our Ukrainian colleagues who have continued to discharge their duties in the most trying of circumstances. Their personal safety must be respected by all parties.
The Russian forces currently occupying the site must withdraw to allow the plant operating staff to fulfil their safety and security duties and to make decisions free of undue pressure, in line with the seven pillars of nuclear safety set out by the IAEA. It is unacceptable to use a nuclear power plant as a military base.
Ukrainian and Russian forces should also cease military activity in the vicinity of the plant and observe a 30km safe zone around the site.
We stand ready to give the IAEA and Ukraine the support necessary to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities and staff.
This statement is issued jointly by World Nuclear Association, Canadian Nuclear Society, European Nuclear Society, Nuclear Industry Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, Canadian Nuclear Association, American Nuclear Society, Nucleareurope, and the Nuclear Institute.
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