International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, currently on a visit to Ukraine, said on his Twitter page that he had met with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and discussed the safety of the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP). He said he had met President Volodymyr Zelensky in Zaporizhia City and “had a rich exchange on the protection of the Zaporizhia NPP and its staff. I reiterated the full support of the IAEA to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities”.

Earlier he had tweeted: “On my way to Zaporizhia NPP to assess first-hand the nuclear safety & security situation at the facility. I will continue my efforts to protect the nuclear plant during the ongoing military conflict, and lead our next regular rotation of IAEA experts to and from the site.” Renat Karchaa, Advisor to the General Director of Russia’s Regenerator, which currently controls and operates ZNPP, said that the visit of Gross to the plant and the rotation of the organisation's inspectors was expected to take place on 29 March.

Grossi also tweeted that he had visited the Dnieper hydroelectric station which “is an essential part of the system that sustains the nuclear safety of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant”, adding that Zelensky “showed me the recent damage suffered by the dam”.

Since Russia took control of ZNPP in March 2022, the Russian national guard has been protecting the station and in October, 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 was established by Rosenergoatom to operate the plant.

However, Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom continues to claim ownership of the plant and the IAEA recognises this claim. ZNPP has been shelled regularly and has also been subjected to drone attacks, which Russia attributes to Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian troops have also on three occasions also tried to seize the plant using special forces. However, Ukraine accuses Russia of shelling the plant.

According to the website of the Ukrainian President, Zelensky had met with Grossi during a working trip to the Zaporizhia region. “The meeting took place on the territory of the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant. They “discussed in detail” the situation at ZNPP. Zelensky thanked Grossi “for his support in issues related to guaranteeing the security of nuclear energy facilities in Ukraine”, which he said was “extremely important today”.

Zelensky “underscored the primary importance of liberating the station from the occupiers and restoring full control of the Ukrainian side over the facility”, according to the website. “Without the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the ZNPP and adjacent territories, any initiatives to restore nuclear safety and security are doomed to failure,” Zelensky emphasised.

The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the international organisations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said Moscow has no special expectations from Grossi’s visit to ZNPP. "We don't have any special expectations from this visit. Raphael Grossi pays special attention to Zaporizhia NPP due to the fact that it is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and it is located near the area of military operations. In addition, he knows perfectly well that the nuclear power plant has repeatedly been subjected to massive shelling from the Ukrainian side," Ulyanov told TASS.

He added that the situation at ZPP is under the reliable control of the Russian operating organisation and the plant's personnel. "If the IAEA Director General is personally convinced of this, then I would hope that subsequent reports will be more objective," Ulyanov said.

This will be visit Grossi's visit to the plant. As a result of first trip in September 2022, a permanent presence of IAEA experts at the site was established. Earlier in March, Grossi said that the situation at the ZNPP underscores the urgent need to create a security zone there, adding that he had stepped up consultations on this issue with both sides.

Ulyanov stressed that ensuring the security of ZNPP depends on Ukraine. He said if Kyiv would confirm the cessation of attacks on the plant, then after additional consultations with Russia and Ukraine, Grossi would have grounds to declare that the nuclear and physical security of the plant is protected.

Meanwhile the (Russian) ZNPP website gave a status report on the situation at the plant. It noted;

Unit 1 is under average repair, and the reactor plant is in a "cold shutdown".Unit 3 is under average repair, and the reactor plant is in the "shutdown for repair".Units 2&4 are in reserve, the reactor units are in a "cold shutdown".Units 5&6 are in reserve, and the reactor plant is in a "hot shutdown".

The radiation situation on the territory of Zaporizhia NPP and in the environmental protection zone “does not exceed the values established by the norms and rules on radiation safety”. In the area of the NPP’s location, the radiation situation corresponds to natural background.

On the status of NPP power supply lines:

The 750 kV Dneprovskaya overhead line is in operation.The 750 kV Zaporizhia, Yuzhno-Donbasskaya and Kakhovskaya lines are disconnected.

Heating of the city [of Energodar] and industrial site is being carried out in accordance with the operating roadmap for the heat network, in line with the average daily outdoor air temperature.

The water level in the Kakhovsky reservoir is 14.57 metres; the water level in the cooling pond of the NPP is 16.58 metres. There are no violations in the operation of the NPP.

Images courtesy of IAEA

Date: Wednesday, 29 March 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newsiaeas-grossi-in-ukraine-to-reassess-nuclear-safety-10709801