We need to do everything possible to keep Ukrainian staff at ZNPP - former Energy Minister Plachkov
Ivan Plachkov, Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine (1999, 2005-2006), Chairman of the Board of the Union of the All-Ukrainian Energy Assembly, explains how Zaporizhzhia NPP faces safety problems
He said this on the Espreso TV channel.
"The situation is very complicated, threatening. I would say it is not controlled there because the IAEA is doing incredibly important work in the town, but it is not allowed to all the facilities to monitor the overall situation. There is a very big problem with the staff there, because Russian personnel do not want to go to work at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and this is understandable. A lot of Ukrainian specialists have left and there is a problem with personnel who will ensure high-quality operational safety," the former Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine emphasized.
Plachkov underlined that the plant should have qualified personnel even when it is shut down, as the protection system is in operation. "My recommendation is to do everything possible and impossible to ensure that Ukrainian staff remain, even if they sign or take anything to ensure safety. It is also important that the nuclear power plant can operate after liberation because there is a threat that we will not get a working plant after de-occupation," he summarized.
The threat of terrorism and the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Russian forces occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP in late February 2022. Since then, there has been a constant presence of personnel and military equipment, which the invading Russian troops store in machine rooms and occasionally deploy to positions for shelling the territories of the Nikopol district in the Dnipropetrovsk region, located on the other side of the Kakhovka Reservoir.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has a monitoring mission at the station, which is supposed to ensure that the nuclear power plant is not used as a military base, that it is not attacked, and that no fire is initiated from the NPP. Power outages at the nuclear power plant occur regularly though. Occupiers began importing explosives to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant last year.
On June 22, the Director-General of the IAEA, after visiting ZNPP Grossi, stated that the situation at the plant is extremely unstable. On the same day, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that intelligence had received information that Russia was considering a scenario for a terrorist act at the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which would cause a radiation release. He also emphasized that the world has sufficient strength to prevent any radiation incidents and even a radiation catastrophe – action must be taken and pressure must be applied. However, the spokesperson for the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, called Zelenskyy's statement a lie.
On July 24, the Russian occupiers put the fourth power unit of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant into a shutdown state, which is a violation of international nuclear law.
On July 25, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recorded anti-personnel mines on the outskirts of the Zaporizhzhia NPP site.
On July 29, the IAEA reported that after the fourth power unit at the occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP was put on shutdown, the fifth power unit was cooled down.
On August 4, IAEA experts stated that they had not noticed mines or explosives on the roofs of two reactor buildings at the plant. They did not have access to the others.
On September 9, IAEA noted increased military activity at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The day before, on September 28, it became known that Ukraine had joined the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency for 2023-2025. This is one of the two governing bodies of the IAEA.
The environmental organization Greenpeace has published its conclusions, stating that international regulatory bodies are unable to effectively oversee safety at the ZNPP, which is under the control of the Russian occupiers. This poses a threat of a potentially dangerous nuclear situation at the plant.
On November 4, the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted the thirteenth rotation of its mission at the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
On December 5, 2023, the fourteenth rotation of the IAEA permanent monitoring mission took place at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is temporarily occupied by the Russian military.
The invading Russian forces are increasing pressure on Ukrainian citizens working at the plant to force them to obtain Russian passports and sign contracts with Rosatom, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (GUR) reports.