The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out a nuclear safety and security mission to the Pivdennoukrainska Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP) this week as it steps up its efforts to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current armed conflict in the country, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

“The IAEA team’s assessments will help inform the follow-up missions to the PNPP to provide the Agency’s continuing assistance and support. The IAEA’s initial missions to the Rivne and Khmelnytsky plants will take place next week,” he said in a statement on Friday night.

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The Director General clarified that a high-level IAEA delegation to the PNPP, after their visit headed by him in late March stayed for the first time at the site for several days to acquire a better understanding of the nuclear safety and security situation and of the plant’s needs.

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According to him, the IAEA experts observed that the PNPP staff continue to operate the plant with high professionalism and in accordance with the design and in compliance with the approved operational license, in particular with operational procedures and safety limits, despite the very challenging conditions arising from the armed conflict in Ukraine, with numerous air raid warnings.

The IAEA team also learned more about the loss of external power on 23 November, and the subsequent shutdown of the two operating units, that resulted from attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. “The site’s diesel generators were able to provide power to maintain nuclear safety and security systems, but there were some plant challenges and there was also an impact on on-site and off-site communications,” the Director General noted.

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He also added that the team also assessed logistics and spare parts management and reviewed the list of support equipment earlier requested through the Ukraine regulator. This led to a better understanding of site needs and how the IAEA can provide further assistance with regard to nuclear safety and security.

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With regard to ZNPP, Grossi expressed concern about the latest personnel decisions demonstrating open contradictions regarding subordination at the plant, which could negatively affect nuclear safety and physical security. He clarified that this week it was announced on site and by the Russian Federation that ZNPP’s Chief Engineer Yuri Chernichuk has been appointed as plant director, while the Ukraine operator Energoatom has rejected this appointment and has appointed Dmytro Verbytsky as acting director general of the plant, and Ihor Murashov as chief engineer, who are not on the site.

Director General Grossi reiterated that the IAEA regards ZNPP as a Ukrainian facility.

He also reported that up to 70 mobile diesel boilers are being gradually deployed in the nearby city of Enerhodar to provide for heating of communal buildings, houses and flats. Currently, these boilers operate at a local school, kindergarten and the hospital. In addition, up to seven mobile diesel boilers are being deployed on the ZNPP site to heat buildings at the site.

Four of the reactor units remain in cold shutdown, while the two other units are in hot shutdown – enabling them to provide steam to the plant and heat to Enerhodar. The city also continues to receive electricity from the off-site power lines through the ZNPP and thermal power plant switchyards system.

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