Russia’s State Duma recently held a "government hour" with the participation of Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev, during which he discussed conditions at the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP). He emphasised that physical protection of the station has been restored. “It was destroyed during the withdrawal of the Ukrainian forces,” he said. “A special protective canopy has been created over the used nuclear fuel storage facility, which caused great concern as there were attacks on this site.”

He noted that all technological processes at ZNPP are now under the control of experienced specialists, and from this point of view there is no risk. “But there is still a threat of Ukrainian attacks on the area around the NPP and on the city of Energodar,” he added.

ZNPP has six power units, which were built to supply power to steel giants-the Ilyich Plant and Azovstal in Mariupol, as well as Zaporizhstal. It is the largest NPP in Europe. Russia took control of ZNPP in March 2022 as part of its special military operation in Ukraine. In October 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree formally transferring ZNPP to Russian jurisdiction under nuclear utility Rosenergoatom (part of Rosatom). A Russian Federal State Unitary Enterprise, Zaporizhia NPP, has since been established by Rosenergoatom to operate the plant, which is now being transferred to Russian operating and safety standards.

All units of the NPP are stopped – five in cold shutdown and one in hot shutdown, which provides heat required for the plant itself. Likhachev said the equipment is serviced in accordance with all the necessary regulations and under strict radiation safety control.

In a similar vein, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement stating: “Any resolutions and statements of officials and organisations calling for the transfer of Zaporizhia NPP under the control of the Kiev regime or the establishment of international control over it are regarded by the Russian side as an encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia.” The text of which is posted on the Telegram channel of the Foreign Ministry.

The statement was a response to a draft resolution approved by majority vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly Board of Governors meeting demanding that Russia withdraw from ZNPP. It was the board's fourth such resolution. The board called "for the urgent withdrawal of all unauthorised military and other unauthorised personnel from Ukraine's ZNPP and for the plant to be immediately returned to the full control of the competent Ukrainian authorities".

Meanwhile, the 17th rotation of IAEA mission observers at ZNPP has taken place. IAEA has maintained observers at the plant since September 2022. Security for the transfer was provided by the Russian Armed Forces together with Rosgvardiya units. There was a ceasefire in the area of the station, which was strictly observed. The new mission consists of four inspectors from Canada, Slovakia, South Korea and Spain. Their task, as before, is to monitor and evaluate the safety status of the station, both operational and physical.

Image: Zaporizhia nuclear power plant (courtesy of IAEA)