In his opening address to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the situation at the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP) remains precarious. “All Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security have been fully or partially compromised. In early April, the Zaporizhzhya NPP suffered direct attacks for the first time in almost one and a half years. These attacks violated the first of the five concrete principles for protecting the Zaporizhzhya NPP that I laid out to the Board for the first time one year ago. The attacks and the frequent disconnection of the off-site power lines due to military activity are creating a grave situation.”

He added that issues related to staffing, routine inspection and maintenance of the safety structures, systems, and components; reliability of supply chains as well as on-site emergency arrangements continue to be challenging and to present risks to the nuclear safety and security of the plant. He noted that in talks in Kaliningrad with Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev he had raised factors the IAEA believes remain a challenge for nuclear safety. In an earlier update on the IAEA website, he said these included the vulnerability of the ZNPP’s off-site power lines, its need for reliable water supplies to ensure reactor cooling and other essential functions, and the situation related to staffing and equipment maintenance.

Grossi told the Board that, since April, all six reactor units are in cold shutdown. “This had been recommended by the Agency for some time, as it enhances the overall safety of the facility.” The IAEA Support & Assistance Mission to Zaporizhia (ISAMZ) does not receive access to some areas of significance to nuclear safety and security of the site, and are unable to have open discussions with all relevant staff. “This challenges the Agency in making impartial and steadfast assessments of the situation against the Seven Pillars and limits our ability to continuously provide a clear confirmation that the five concrete principles are being kept.”

According to the latest update on the IAEA website, IAEA experts stationed at the site have continued to hear explosions on most days, normally at distances away from the plant. However, after the team was awakened by four explosions near the site, ZNPP informed the team that there was no damage to the plant.

IAEA experts conducted regular walkdowns to monitor nuclear safety and security, including ongoing and planned maintenance activities on parts of the safety systems, such as the emergency core cooling system of the unit 1 reactor, and on the main electrical transformer of unit 2. The IAEA team visited the ZNPP’s maintenance workshop, where they were told that all machines are in operational condition and able to perform necessary maintenance tasks.

During a visit to the reactor building and safety systems rooms of unit 4, the IAEA experts observed equipment including steam generators and the main cooling pumps. They noted that generally the housekeeping was good, but they did observe some oil on the floor of the reactor hall coming from the overhead cranes, as well as boron deposits on the floors of some of the safety systems rooms, which are not uncommon for such facilities. The ZNPP confirmed these would be addressed through cleaning and maintenance.

The IAEA team also observed the successful performance of routine testing of emergency diesel generators at units 4 and 6. The experts visited four levels of the turbine building of unit 5 where they observed the status of different types of equipment, including the main feedwater pumps, main steam valves and the main condenser, but once again were denied access to the western side of the building.

The IAEA experts also met with the site’s Chemistry Control Division, where they were informed of the technological process used for water treatment and were also told that all necessary consumables and chemical reagents have been supplied from the Russian Federation. The team was further informed that the division has sufficient staff, including personnel that have come from other Russian NPPs.

While visiting the ZNPP’s thermal mechanical warehouse, the IAEA team saw its diesel generator spare parts and electrical equipment. The team observed spare parts from various manufacturers, including from Western suppliers before the conflict, as well as some from the Russian Federation. The ZNPP informed the team that it had completed its transition to a Russian-based spare parts and equipment database.

The IAEA experts also went to the temporary shelters located inside each reactor building, which were established by ZNPP in 2022 due to the unavailability of the original shelters. The team was informed that up to 1000 people can be sheltered on site in these temporary shelters.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the IAEA experts present at the Khelmnytskyy, Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs and the Chornobyl site reported that nuclear safety and security is being maintained despite the effects of the ongoing conflict, including air raid alarms.

Two reactor units at the Rivne NPP successfully re-started after the planned outages for refuelling and maintenance were safely completed ahead of schedule. The Rivne NPP now has three units in full power operation, while the fourth reactor is being prepared for shutdown for planned refuelling and maintenance. Meanwhile, the planned maintenance activities at one of the reactor units at the South Ukraine NPP are continuing according to schedule.

The IAEA said it continues with the delivery of much-needed equipment and supplies for maintaining nuclear safety and security in Ukraine and had organised two deliveries of nuclear safety and security equipment to Ukraine, bringing the total number of deliveries to 49 since the start of the armed conflict.

The KhNPP, SUNPP and USIE Izotop – a Ukrainian state enterprise involved in the management of radioactive material intended for medical, industrial and other purposes – had received physical protection equipment and atmospheric probing systems. The equipment was procured using extrabudgetary contributions from the European Union and the UK

In his address to the Board Grossi said Agency staff at all nuclear sites in Ukraine were conducted as planned and without delays. A total of 24 missions comprising 45 Agency staff members were deployed. Since the start of the war, 47 deliveries of equipment worth more than €9.4m ($10.2m) have reached 18 organisations in Ukraine.