March 24, 2022
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said “we cannot afford to waste any more time” in reaching an agreed framework to ensure the safety and nuclear security in Ukraine.
The IAEA Director General’s call for rapid progress came in a video message (Image: IAEA Screengrab on YouTube)
Grossi, who said he was “seriously concerned” about the situation, has been seeking an agreement with the two sides since meeting with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine two weeks ago in Turkey.
He said the IAEA “is ready and able to immediately deploy and provide much-needed assistance to ensure nuclear safety and security in Ukraine.”
“I have personally expressed my willingness to come to Ukraine immediately to conclude such an agreement, which would include substantial assistance and support measures, including the on-site presence of IAEA experts at different facilities in Ukraine, as well as the delivery of vital safety equipment,” he added.
Russian forces have taken control of the Chernobyl site as well as Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporozhe. In both cases, Ukrainian personnel continued to operate the sites, but the same shift remained in Chernobyl for 25 days before being able to shoot, while in Zaporozhe a training center a few hundred meters from the one of the reactors was damaged during the hostilities. There were also a few days when there was a total loss of external power at Chernobyl, and in Zaporozhe the military conflict has currently led to the loss of two out of five external power lines. A nuclear research laboratory in the city of Kharkov also saw its building damaged in bombardments.
A positive outcome in his talks with both sides has yet to be achieved despite “intensive consultations”, Grossi said, and “the need to prevent a nuclear accident becomes more pressing with each passing day”.
He added: “I hope I can conclude this agreed framework without further delay. We cannot afford to waste any more time. We must act now.”
In its March 24 update, Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said its four plants continued to operate within normal safety limits.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said in an afternoon update on March 24 that in Chernobyl, the Russian military did not meet all radiation protection requirements in the area “resulting in a deterioration of the radiological situation at the site”. . He added that Russian forces were “currently trying to take over” Slavutych, which was built after the 1986 accident and where most of the current Chernobyl workers and their families live.
It also emerged on March 24 that the Russian mission to the IAEA said that four Rosatom workers had been detained at the Rivne nuclear power plant, where they had delivered a new shipment of nuclear fuel on February 23, the day before the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine. .
“Since then, the Russian specialists have been forcibly detained at the site (…) in the wagon where the cargo was previously held,” said the statement released by the IAEA.
They requested that the IAEA “provide all possible assistance to resolve this humanitarian problem, as well as to circulate this information among all IAEA member states as soon as possible”.
Energoatom disputed the Russian mission’s version of events. This said there were four armed guards from Russia who “accompanied the cargo” and “according to the contract, until the moment of unloading and transfer to the Ukrainian side, they kept him. Yesterday, this cargo was unloaded. After the completion of these works, the guards left the territory of the station accompanied by officers of the SBU, who ensure their safety and transfer to the Russian side.”
Research and writing by World Nuclear News