A year ago, on September 1, 2022, a permanent IAEA monitoring mission began its work at Zaporizhzhya NPP. The beginning of the work of the Agency's experts at ZNPP was the visit to the occupied nuclear power plant by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. Acting SNRIU Chairman, Chief State Inspector for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Ukraine Oleh Korikov informed about the results of the permanent monitoring mission for the year and how the situation with nuclear and radiation safety at ZNPP has changed during this time.
“The presence of the IAEA mission at Zaporizhzhia NPP is an indisputable fact of support of Ukraine by the international community, which is consolidated in the fact that ZNPP is a Ukrainian power plant and should be returned under control of the Ukrainian Government. The position of civilized countries is clearly defined in the three resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors adopted in 2022, which call on russia to de-occupy, demilitarize of ZNPP, liberate all Ukrainian territories”, SNRIU Acting Chairman said.
He also noted the following important factors in the work of the mission:
- the constant presence of IAEA experts at ZNPP allows Ukraine to receive information about the situation at the occupied NPP, the state of nuclear and radiation safety, about the illegal and criminal actions of the illegitimate occupation administration;
- thanks to the IAEA's permanent monitoring missions at ZNPP and other nuclear power plants, Ukraine remains open and transparent to the world community even in conditions of war;
- the presence of IAEA experts makes it possible to quickly and reasonably refute various russian fake accusations (groundless accusations of creating a "dirty bomb," etc.);
- the permanent presence of IAEA experts at ZNPP exerts some pressure on the Russian invaders, who are not used to working in conditions of constant monitoring;
- the IAEA helped to organize a system of assistance to Ukrainian enterprises to increase the level of nuclear safety through the Response and Assistance Network (RANET). Ukraine receives personal protective equipment, measuring equipment, communications, specialized vehicles, etc. As of today, Ukraine has received assistance through the RANET network from Romania, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Germany, France, Hungary, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, and the USA.
“However, despite these positive factors, we, together with the IAEA, failed to do the main thing: to ensure safety at Zaporizhzhya NPP”, said Oleh Korikov and outlined the following problems:
- ZNPP turned from an electricity producer to a consumer (back in September 2022, two power units produced electricity, now all are in a state of shutdown);
- legitimate management has lost access to ZNPP and currently the access of the Ukrainian legitimate leadership has not been restored;
- the number of Ukrainian personnel has decreased significantly (a year ago there were about 5 thousand specialists, now there are about one thousand left), in return, the occupation administration brings anyone from Russian and belarusian nuclear power plants to ZNPP;
- significant risk of ZNPP de-energizing remains;
- physical access to ZNPP continues to be controlled by the occupiers (this leads to an increase in the militarization of nuclear power plants, the creation of checkpoints, obstacles, firing positions, and further disruption of logistics);
- IAEA experts are not given full access to the territory, equipment and systems of nuclear power plant (the invaders decide what information to provide to the IAEA, where to provide access to experts, and where not, this is how russian terrorists are trying to influence the work of the mission);
- online transmission of data from the automated radiation monitoring system at the ZNPP site, which the invaders turned off in May this year, has not been resumed (this complicates the response to a possible radiation accident at ZNPP and deprives Ukraine of the ability to fulfill the conditions of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident);
- the emergency preparedness and response system remains degraded (internal and external crisis centers, fire departments have ceased to function).
“As a result, I must note that the operation of ZNPP occurs in violation of internationally recognized safety principles and in violation of the terms of the license. Reactor units have not been transferred to a cold shutdown. There is no timely maintenance and repairs, and therefore - not maintained in working condition equipment. Part of the site of ZNPP is mined. The production facilities of NPP units № 1, 2, 3, 4 continue to be used as shelters for military equipment, weapons, explosives”, said Oleh Korikov.
He stressed that the civilized world that operates peaceful nuclear facilities should identify and isolate a nuclear terrorist by applying economic isolation (sanctions, termination of cooperation, suspension of the implementation of contracts) and political isolation (exclusion of Russia from international organizations, including the IAEA).
“Currently, within the framework of the implementation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Peace Formula, in particular the first paragraph on nuclear and radiation safety, consultations are being held with partner countries to strengthen supervision of the security situation at ZNPP through an independent security assessment with the invitation of representatives of the nuclear and radiation safety regulatory bodies of partner countries and those who joined in the implementation of this paragraph of the peace formula. The creation of an international coordination center for nuclear and radiation safety with headquarters in Kyiv is also being discussed. In addition, discussions continue on the restoration of the safe operation of Zaporizhzhya NPP after de-occupation”, concluded Oleh Korikov. He also stressed that de-occupation, demilitarization, restoration of full Ukrainian control over ZNPP is the only option to return the nuclear power plant to safe operation.