IAEA undertakes safety mission to South Ukraine NPP

7 December 2022

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has carried out a nuclear safety and security mission to the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) as it steps up its efforts to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in the country.

Requested by Ukraine, it was part of a suite of IAEA missions to provide on-site assistance and support in nuclear safety and security to Ukraine’s NPPs, including the SUNPP as well as the Rivne and Khmelnitsky NPPs, and the Chornobyl site to which the IAEA sent a mission the previous week.

Grossi met Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Bucharest and confirmed that IAEA will strengthen its presence at these NPPs. The Director General led a high-level IAEA delegation to the SUNPP in late March. The latest mission was the first time a team of experts stayed at the site for several days to acquire a better understanding of the nuclear safety and security situation and of the plant’s needs.

During the mission to the SUNPP, the IAEA team met plant management and staff and conducted walkdowns and interviews in the areas of nuclear and radiation safety, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and response, and logistics and communications.

The IAEA experts observed that the SUNPP staff continue to operate the plant with high professionalism and in accordance with the design and in compliance with the approved operational licence, in particular with operational procedures and safety limits, despite the very challenging conditions arising from the armed conflict in Ukraine, with numerous air raid warnings.

The IAEA team also learned more about the loss of external power on 23 November, and the subsequent shutdown of the two operating units, that resulted from attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The site’s diesel generators were able to provide power to maintain nuclear safety and security systems, but there were some plant challenges and there was also an impact on on-site and off-site communications.

The team also assessed logistics and spare parts management and reviewed the list of support equipment earlier requested through the Ukraine regulator. This led to a better understanding of site needs and how the IAEA can provide further assistance with regard to nuclear safety and security.

The IAEA team’s assessments will help inform the follow-up missions to the SUNPP to provide the Agency’s continuing assistance and support. The IAEA’s initial missions to the Rivne and Khmelnitsky plants will take place shortly.

Image: The South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (courtesy of Energoatom)

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