The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Ukrainian operator of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) have worked together to restore the remote transmission of vital safeguards data from the facility to IAEA headquarters after a technical interruption of almost two weeks, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.
The Director General welcomed the development as an important and positive step for the implementation of IAEA safeguards at Ukraine's largest NPP. However, he also stressed that IAEA inspectors must still go to the facility as soon as possible to carry out essential nuclear material verification activities which cannot be done remotely.
The transfer of safeguards data from IAEA systems installed at the ZNPP was cut on 30 May and re-established earlier today. The images recorded by IAEA surveillance cameras during this time period are now being downloaded for review by Agency inspectors to confirm that continuity of knowledge has not been lost.
Russian forces took control of the ZNPP more than three months ago, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate the plant.
“Remote transmission of safeguards data is an important element of IAEA safeguards in Ukraine and elsewhere,” Director General Grossi said. “However, it is not a substitute for the physical presence of IAEA inspectors at NPPs to verify nuclear material at regular intervals.“
The interval of physical inventory verifications at NPPs cannot exceed a specified duration. This is particularly critical at two of the units at ZNPP. In addition, these units have been refuelled in recent months and a physical verification of the nuclear material therein is a safeguards pre-requisite before re-starting them.
“If I am not able to dispatch inspectors to perform the required verification at ZNPP, implementation of safeguards in Ukraine will be compromised,” Director General Grossi added.
The Director General said he was continuing his efforts to agree and organize an IAEA-led International Mission to the ZNPP as soon as possible to carry out safety and security work at the plant in southern Ukraine. IAEA inspectors would at the same time conduct their on-site verification activities there.
The IAEA continues to receive safeguards data from its systems installed at the other three operational NPPs in Ukraine and from the Chornobyl NPP.
Regarding the country’s operational reactors, Ukraine informed the IAEA today that eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the ZNPP, 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. Safety systems remain operational at the four NPPs, and they also continue to have off-site power available, Ukraine said.