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IAEA experts at ZNPP report daily explosions, postpone fuel storage facility visit amid air raid

29 March, 2024 Friday
12:10

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) present at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant have been hearing explosions, likely from artillery fire, every day for a week

This is stated in the Agency's report of March 28.

"At the ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), the IAEA experts stationed at the site have continued to hear explosions every day over the past week, at different distances from the plant. Several times, the sounds appeared to come from near the site, presumably from outgoing artillery fire, the experts said. Nearby small arms fire was heard during the night of 22 March, and again yesterday (March 27 - ed.)," the Agency reported.

In addition, due to the air raid, IAEA experts were unable to visit the dry spent fuel storage facility on schedule.

"In addition, an air raid alarm went off at the site yesterday, delaying the IAEA team’s planned visit to the ZNPP’s dry spent fuel facility until later in the day," the report said.

The agency also provided details of what it had managed to uncover.

"Despite such challenges, the IAEA team has continued to conduct regular walkdowns across the site over the past week, including a visit to the reactor building of unit 5 to observe the water level in the spent fuel pool, the operation of spent fuel cooling pumps, two steam generators and the safety systems rooms. No leaks of fluid or traces of boric acid were observed. The team also saw operating pumps and other equipment in the turbine hall of unit 4, observed the testing of an emergency diesel generator in the same unit, and visited electrical rooms of the safety systems in units 4 and 5," the IAEA said.

Based on the findings, international experts did not identify any nuclear safety issues. At the same time, the IAEA emphasized that Russia has not yet provided timely and proper access for experts to all areas important for nuclear safety, including some parts of the turbine halls, the insulated gates of the ZNPP cooling pond and the open 330 kV distribution point at the neighboring Zaporizhzhia TPP.

"The IAEA is aware of social media reports and images related to the presence of troops and vehicles inside one of the turbine halls at the ZNPP. The presence of such vehicles in ZNPP turbine halls has been reported in previous updates by the Director General," the Agency said.

Repair work on parts of the security system of power unit No. 1 has not yet been resumed after Russia decided to postpone it again last week. However, according to observers, other scheduled maintenance work is being carried out elsewhere at the ZNPP.

The IAEA experts reported that one of the sprinkler pools of Unit 5 is being drained for cleaning, a process expected to take about three weeks. Following this, they plan to clean the sprinkler pool of Unit 6. Currently, two out of the five units are in cold shutdown, while reactor unit 4 remains in hot shutdown to generate steam for heating purposes.

The IAEA also reported that the research complex in Kharkiv, which lost external power due to Russian shelling, is running on emergency diesel generators, and the subcritical neutron source at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, damaged by shelling, has no signs of a radiological release.

"Due to the nature of this facility, which has been shutdown since the start of the armed conflict, we do not currently anticipate a situation that could have any implications to public safety. But, clearly, leaving a nuclear installation without off-site power is not normal and once again demonstrates the risks from this war to nuclear safety. We will continue to monitor the situation at the facility," said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.

The IAEA experts at Khmelnytskyy, Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs, as well as at the Chornobyl site, reported that nuclear safety continues to be maintained despite numerous air raids by Russian troops during the week.

"Maintenance in the turbine hall of unit 2 at the Khmelnytskyy NPP is progressing well, and unit 4 at the Rivne NPP is in planned outage. The IAEA experts at the Chornobyl site were rotated this week. The IAEA continued to deliver equipment needed to maintain nuclear safety and security in Ukraine. This week, the Rivne NPP received a portable X-ray device for non-destructive testing at the site that was procured with funding from the United Kingdom. It was the 42nd delivery of equipment to Ukraine since the start of the conflict, with such assistance now totalling more than 9 million euro," the Agency reported.

  • Earlier in March, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution on nuclear safety, which demands that Russia return Zaporizhzhya NPP to Ukrainian control.

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