The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is aware of recent drone footage said to be showing trenches made by Russian troops in a contaminated area near Ukraine’s Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and it is ready to visit the site as soon as it is possible to assess the radiation situation and to provide other safety assistance as needed, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.
The IAEA is still not able to confirm reports last week of Russian forces receiving high doses of radiation while being in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone set up after the 1986 accident. Russia took control of the area on 24 February and held it for five weeks before withdrawing last Thursday. Ukraine has told the IAEA that the process of resuming regulatory control of the NPP has begun.
Ukrainian authorities this week published footage which they say shows fortifications dug by Russian forces in the Exclusion Zone during their presence at the site. The IAEA has reviewed the footage but can only undertake an independent radiological assessment once its experts are on the site.
Director General Grossi said the IAEA also needs to urgently send its nuclear safety experts to the site to make their own assessment of the status of the Chornobyl NPP and restore online monitoring there, which was interrupted at the start of the conflict. The IAEA is prepared to send any other safety-related equipment and components to the NPP, where various radioactive waste management facilities are located.
“It is of paramount importance that the IAEA travels to Chornobyl so that we can take urgent action to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security there,” he said. “I’m in close consultations with our Ukrainian counterparts to organize such a visit as soon as it is possible.”
Ukraine separately informed the IAEA today that there had been no other developments related to nuclear safety and security over the past 24 hours.
Regarding Ukraine’s 15 operational reactors at four sites, eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP. The seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve.
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 Chornobyl NPP, but such data was being transferred to IAEA headquarters from the other NPPs in Ukraine.