IAEA: All Safety Principles Violated at Zaporizhzhia NPP

by Roman Cheplyk
Monday, June 3, 2024
IAEA: All Safety Principles Violated at Zaporizhzhia NPP

The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains unstable, with all seven basic principles of nuclear safety, known as the “seven pillars,” completely or partially violated

This was stated by Rafael Grossi, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a report to the IAEA Governing Council.

Key Points from the IAEA Director's Statement:

  • First Direct Attack: In early April, the Zaporizhzhia NPP was directly attacked for the first time in almost a year and a half. This attack violated the first of the five specific principles for the protection of the plant.
  • Power Line Outages: Attacks and frequent outages of power lines due to hostilities have created a serious situation.
  • Complex Issues: Staffing, routine inspections, maintenance, and emergency response at the site remain complex and pose significant risks to the plant's nuclear safety and security.
  • Restricted Access: The IAEA mission does not have access to some areas of the Zaporizhzhia NPP site that are crucial for nuclear safety, nor can it engage in open discussions with all relevant personnel. This limits the agency's ability to assess compliance with the seven core principles and hinders its ability to provide clear evidence that the five specific principles are being met.
  • Current Reactor State: Since April, all six reactor units at the Zaporizhzhia NPP have been in a state of cold shutdown.

Background on Zaporizhzhia NPP:

  • Largest Nuclear Power Plant in Europe: Located in the city of Energodar, the Zaporizhzhia NPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
  • Occupation: Russian troops occupied Energodar and the nearby plant in early March 2022.
  • Staffing Challenges: As of September 2023, 822 Ukrainian nuclear workers were still operating at the plant, despite accusations of abduction and torture by Russian occupiers.
  • Shelling and Accusations: The plant's territory has been subjected to periodic shelling, with Ukraine and Russia blaming each other. Ukrainian authorities have also accused the Russian army of using the plant to store military equipment and deploy servicemen.

The "Seven Pillars" of Nuclear Safety:

  1. Physical Integrity: The nuclear plant and all its systems must be physically intact.
  2. Operational Safety Systems: All safety systems must operate without interruption.
  3. Autonomous Decision-Making: Staff must be able to perform their work and make decisions without external pressure.
  4. Uninterrupted Power Supply: A constant and uninterrupted power supply must be ensured.
  5. Radiation Monitoring: The level of radiation must be continuously monitored.
  6. Communication: There must be uninterrupted communication with the regulatory body and other authorities.
  7. Protection of Personnel: The safety and security of all personnel working at the plant must be ensured.

The IAEA's concerns highlight the precarious situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and underscore the urgent need for measures to ensure its safety and security.

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