Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 19 April that direct communications between the national regulator and the Chernobyl NPP had been restored, more than a month after such contact was lost when Russian forces controlled the site, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The Director General welcomed the re-establishment of phone communication between the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) and the Chernobyl NPP. He said it was another important step in the process of resuming Ukraine’s regulatory control of the site of the 1986 accident, where various radioactive waste management facilities are now located.

Russian forces seized the Chernobyl NPP on 24 February and held it for five weeks before withdrawing on 31 March. Ukraine informed the IAEA on 10 March that it had lost contact with the NPP site. The regulator continued to receive information about the situation at Chernobyl through senior off-site management of the plant.

“This was clearly not a sustainable situation, and it is very good news that the regulator can now contact the plant directly when it needs to,” Director General Grossi said. Reliable communication with the regulator is one of seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security that he outlined at the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Director General plans to head a mission of IAEA experts to the Chernobyl site later this month to conduct nuclear safety, security and radiological assessments, deliver vital equipment and repair the Agency’s remote safeguards monitoring systems there.

Regarding Ukraine’s 15 operational reactors at four NPPs, Ukraine said 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 all four NPPs and they also continue to have off-site power available, Ukraine said.

In relation to safeguards, the IAEA said it 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.