The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has carried out nuclear safety and security missions at Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyy and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) as part of its ongoing and intensifying activities to help avert the danger of a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in the country, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The two expert missions, requested by Ukraine, took place a week after the IAEA went to the South Ukraine NPP to also provide on-site assistance and support in nuclear safety and security, and two weeks after a similar mission to the Chornobyl site.

While IAEA has a premanent presence at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, Grossi said: “At the same time, however, it is very important that we don’t forget Ukraine’s other nuclear power plants. They may not be directly on the frontline as Zaporizhzhya is, but they are in a country at war and the potential nuclear safety and security risks are very clear. In recent weeks, our experts have conducted work aimed at reducing those risks, and this will continue as long as it is necessary.”

This expert mission assessed the nuclear safety and security situation at the two plants and identified their future equipment and other needs for follow-up action by the IAEA. This will also inform the forthcoming planned continuing presence at these plants, including the South Ukraine and Chornobyl NPPs.

At the Khmelnytskyy and Rivne plants, the IAEA experts found operating staff to be both professional and fully committed to their important tasks despite the challenging and difficult situation. Ensuring nuclear safety and security remained very much a priority at the two sites, the team said. The two plants, located in north-western and western Ukraine, have so far not suffered any physical damage because of the conflict, but both have experienced related challenges and other consequences, for example power blackouts, that led to the temporary operation of back-up emergency diesel generators.

They requested continued IAEA assistance, including equipment deliveries and also in efforts to provide psychological support to staff working in extremely stressful conditions. “In the coming days and weeks, we will address the requests made by the plants during this week’s expert missions. We will continue to deliver the concrete assistance that is needed to help protect Ukraine’s nuclear facilities during this unprecedented war situation,” Grossi said.

Image: Ukraine's Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plant (courtesy of Uatom)