IAEA says situation remains unchanged: Energoatom head gives details

19 April 2022

Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there had been no significant new developments related to nuclear safety and security over the past 24 hours, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. The situation had remained unchanged for the previous four days.

Regarding Ukraine’s 15 operational reactors at four NPPs, seven are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye NPP, two at the Rovno NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnitsky NPP. The eight other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve. Safety systems remain operational at the four NPPs and they also continue to have off-site power available.

In relation to safeguards, the IAEA said that the situation remained unchanged from that reported previously. The Agency was still not receiving remote data transmission from its monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl NPP, but such data was being transferred to IAEA headquarters from the other NPPs in Ukraine.

In an exclusive interview with Interfax on 14 April, Petro Kotyn, acting president of Ukraine’s nuclear utility Energoatom said recent staff changes (rotations) at the Chernobyl NPP had been conducted by boat and this would continue in future. “By boat, we can change (staff) at any time. This route passes through our territory. We took out 51 people and brought in 49. Before the war the transportation passed through the territory of Belarus, for which it was necessary to ask permission,” he said, noting that Belarus was “an enemy country”. He added that it would also be possible to undertake staff changes by land using just Ukrainian territory “but this involves a very big diversion, so the boat is the best option”.

Asked about staff rotation at Russian controlled Zaporozhye NPP (ZNPP) he said this was continuing as normal but that movement was controlled by the Russians, whom he described as “Orcs”. He admitted that many people were leaving the operator town of Energodar through humanitarian corridors but he thought key staff would remain. “People understand their responsibility, and those who are absolutely needed, especially for critical functions, will remain as they did at Chernobyl.” He added: “In order to support ZNPP staff, we have introduced an additional 20% salary increase for all staff who have a pro-Ukrainian position. It will be accrued from the day of the capture of the station on 4 March, and will be paid on the day of its release.” He noted that there were “isolated cases” of people who “betrayed Energodar” but that the Ukrainian security forces (SBU) were dealing with these. “We have specialists at the stations who are responsible for this. According to them, the situation is stable at all stations,” he said.

Asked whether the IAEA would visit ZNPP while the Russian troops were in control, he said: “I will not allow it. We will not go for that, it is clear,” adding that “the IAEA will not do that either”. He said he “did not expect anything special” from the IAEA. “Some free aid is being organised and will be presented there, this applies to gadgets that are important to us, such as radiation monitoring devices, radiation dose control, and some other tools that are useful during the elimination of accidents and to minimise their consequences.”

He added: “Everything else depends not on them, but on us. This situation has shown that the IAEA provides no relevant guidance on actions, neither on their own, nor on the NPP operator, nor on the regulator. Nobody expected that.”  

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