Thursday, 22 February, 2024

IAEA says Ukraine has requested help safeguarding nuclear plants

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at the extraordinary meeting of the agency's board of governors in Vienna, Austria on March 2. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

By Tim Lister, Kyiv, March 2 (CNN): The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it has received a request from Ukraine's nuclear power authority "to provide immediate assistance in coordinating activities in relation to the safety of the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) NPP and other nuclear facilities."

The request came as Russia notified the IAEA that its forces have taken control of the territory around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday. The Russian letter to the IAEA said personnel at the plant continued their “work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in the normal mode of operation. The radiation levels remain normal.”

Social media video footage verified by CNN Wednesday showed workers at the NPP blocking access roads to the plant, one of the largest nuclear power plants in Europe.

Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, last week.

The IAEA said Grossi will be holding consultations and maintaining contacts in order to address Ukraine's request.

The agency added: "The Director-General has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided. He also said that operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure."

The IAEA also said that on Tuesday, Ukraine informed the agency that all its nuclear power plants remained under the control of the national operator.

In an update Wednesday, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said it maintained communications with the country’s nuclear facilities and that they continued to operate normally.

The Zaporizhzhia plant is the largest of Ukraine’s nuclear power sites, with six out of the country’s 15 nuclear energy reactors.