Ukraine has received a large batch of vital radiation protection and monitoring equipment offered by Australia and France and delivered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has said.
The Director General said the shipment of personal protective equipment, radiation dosimeters and radiation and contamination monitors marked a milestone in IAEA-led efforts to ensure nuclear safety and security during the current military conflict in Ukraine, which has four operational nuclear power plants (NPPs) with 15 reactors, as well as many other radiation-related facilities.
“This is a major step forward in our joint work to help Ukraine reduce the risk of a nuclear accident or a radiological emergency. I’m very grateful for the generous support provided by Australia and France, as well as by many other countries that have also offered to assist,” he said. “Despite significant logistical and other hurdles, the equipment has now arrived in Ukraine where it will be put to good use by our Ukrainian counterparts.”
The IAEA has also previously assisted Ukraine with equipment during three safety, security and safeguards missions to Chornobyl and South Ukraine NPP in recent months. However, this was the first shipment organised through the IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET), where countries can register their capabilities for support in areas ranging from radiation dose assessments and decontamination to nuclear installation assessment and advice, radioactive source search and recovery, and much else.
Australia and France are among 12 IAEA member states registered in RANET that have so far offered to provide specialised equipment to Ukraine, in response to a comprehensive request for equipment the country said it needed for the safe and secure operation of its nuclear facilities. Ukraine’s list included radiation measurement devices, protective equipment, computer-related assistance, power supply systems and diesel generators, among other items.
This week’s shipment consisted of more than 160 dosimeters and monitors that are important for safety and radiation protection as well as hundreds of items of personal protective equipment, including full body suits, masks and disposable gloves and covers. Australia donated its share of the delivery, while the IAEA procured additional equipment with funds from France.
“More safety and security-related equipment will be transported to Ukraine in the coming months, thanks to substantial support from countries offering equipment and others providing extra-budgetary contributions for our assistance. The needs are large, and I encourage other countries to also step forward with support for our crucial work in Ukraine,” Grossi said.
“Together with Ukraine, we have made significant progress in identifying and beginning to address what is needed for the highest possible level of safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and activities involving radioactive sources during these unprecedented and extremely challenging times,” he said. “But a lot remains to be done. I am fully focused on doing everything possible to prevent a nuclear accident that could have severe consequences for human health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”
Grossi once again stressed the importance of the IAEA being able to travel to the Zaporizhzya NPP (ZNPP) to conduct essential safety, security and safeguards activities at Ukraine’s largest NPP. The IAEA has not been able to visit the ZNPP since before the current military conflict in Ukraine. Russian forces took control of the plant more than four months ago, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate it.
In official communications this week, Ukraine informed the IAEA about the “extremely difficult” situation at the ZNPP “due to constant pressure” on its employees. Grossi reiterated his growing concern about the severe and challenging conditions facing staff at the ZNPP and the impact of such conditions on the safety and security of the plant, saying this further underlined the need for the IAEA to go there as soon as possible. However, Ukraine if continuing to refuse any IAEA visit while Russia is in control of the plant.
In relation to safeguards, the IAEA is continuing to receive remote safeguards data from the four operational NPPs, but it is still experiencing a partial loss of safeguards data transfer from Chornobyl, he said.
Within the framework of the RANET mechanism, 12 countries have already offered assistance to Ukraine – Australia, the USA, Romania, Hungary, France, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, and Spain. The recipients of such assistance are the operating organisations of nuclear installations and storage facilities for radioactive waste disposal, other licensees in the field of nuclear energy use, as well as central and local executive authorities, which, according to the law, are responsible for ensuring nuclear and radiation safety.
RANET was established by the IAEA as an operational tool to support the practical implementation of the Convention on Assistance in the Event of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. RANET is an integrated system for the coordination of international assistance, which provides the organization of operational assistance in consultations (response experts) and training, the provision of the necessary equipment and materials, the departure of qualified personnel to the scene of incidents, and other support.