1709610506 UN nuclear agency expresses 39extreme concern39 over safety at Zaporizhzhia

UN nuclear agency expresses 'extreme concern' over safety at Zaporizhzhia power plant | International

Beyond Russian President Vladimir Putin's regular warnings against resorting to its nuclear missiles, Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has created a much more certain nuclear threat in a country that has already suffered one of the greatest accidents in history, that of Chernobyl. in 1986. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Moscow forces on March 4, 2022, is in “an unprecedented situation,” according to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, who stated on Friday that he was “ “extremely concerned” about safety.

Two years ago, the Russian army bombed the facility in an attempt to take it over, stunning half the world. Since then, there have been eight total outages, forcing personnel to rely on diesel generators to cool the six reactors. For the past two weeks, the company has depended on just one of the 10 power lines that served it before the takeover, without any other backup power.

As the war enters its third year, the power plant's precarious operation continues to be a matter of extreme concern. Since hostilities began, the IAEA chief has visited Ukraine nine times to monitor it. The agency maintains a team of inspectors at the facility who promptly report on the explosions and military activity around them at a location, Energodar, on the southern bank of the Dnieper, where air alerts are constantly in place. The permanent lack of energy affects not only the cooling capacity of the reactors, but also “other essential functions of nuclear, technological and physical security,” the agency said.

For Grossi, the fact that a facility of this type can continue to operate under these conditions is “an unprecedented situation in the history of nuclear energy” and “clearly not sustainable.” “I remain extremely concerned about nuclear safety at the plant,” the director general added. For two weeks, the power plant has relied on a single 750-kilovolt line to supply the power it needs, with no backup power in the event of an outage. The authority's inspectors have assured that they hope that another 330 kilovolt system will be commissioned in the coming days, which can serve as a backup. Until the invasion, the power station had six lines of this capacity and another four lines of 750 to ensure its operation.

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, on March 4 in Vienna (Austria).The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, on March 4 in Vienna (Austria). Lisa Leutner (Portal)

The organization's general director, who met with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in February to discuss the situation of the country's five power plants, plans to travel to Russia this Tuesday, where he is expected to meet with Putin and that both address the situation in which the Energodar power plant finds itself.

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The President of Energoatom, Peter Kotin, assured this Monday that the anniversary of the takeover of the power plant falls at a particularly sensitive time, as the six-year useful life of nuclear fuel is about to expire. Also because, he claims, the Russians did not allow qualified Ukrainian nationals to work at the plant, who were replaced by poorly trained employees from Russian plants. “Will this date be the beginning of the countdown to tragic and catastrophic events for all of humanity?” is asked in an article commemorating the second anniversary of the takeover of the Zaporizhzhia power plant. Then the answer is: “The likelihood of that happening is greater than ever.”

Of the seven pillars, six are obligatory

The most catastrophic moment in these two years under Russian control occurred on June 6, when Kremlin troops blew up the dam at the Nova Kajovka hydroelectric power plant (150 kilometers southwest), emptying the reservoir in which the power plant was located. feeds the plant and ensures that the pool used to cool the reactors is refilled. “Debates continue on the need to address the consequences of the floods in Kherson province,” said the head of the IAEA this Monday, in view of the possible spread of contamination from the catastrophic flood that triggered the attack downstream, in the mouth of the Kherson, the Dnieper had triggered.

Due to the severe shortage of personnel – some of the employees of Ukrainian nationality gave up their jobs after the start of the war – and without guaranteed food, six of the seven pillars built by the IAEA to ensure safety at the plant are at risk, the inspectors say: the full functionality of its safety systems, the safety of its personnel, secure energy supply, protecting the logistics and transportation supply chain, establishing effective radiation monitoring systems inside and outside the plant, and communicating with the regulatory authority, the Ukrainian state-owned company Energoatom.

The only commitment that has been met so far is the physical integrity of the facilities, despite the bombing that Russia carried out at its test site more than eight days after the start of its invasion, which led to what Ukraine says was a fire . It caused several deaths among its employees. After taking over this infrastructure, Ukraine set up a crisis response facility in the event of a nuclear accident, which would result in the mandatory evacuation of 300,000 people in the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mikolaiv regions, and organizes regular exercises in the region.

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