On 24 February, at 5 am, Ukrainians woke up to the sound of explosions: the Russian Federation had begun a war against Ukraine. Today’s realities of Ukrainians are disturbing sirens, basements and bomb shelters, sounds of shelling and explosions, destroyed houses, hospitals, schools… Tanks, armored personnel carriers, Bayraktars, Grad missiles, armored combat vehicles, air defense, anti-aircraft missile systems, fighter jets belong to the everyday vocabulary of ordinary people. The Armed Forces of Ukraine, the territorial defense, the foreign legion are heroically defending our state. All the inhabitants of Ukraine have united: some of them join volunteering, some people help financially, some join countering fakes and protecting information, and some people stops tanks with their bare hands. The whole world opposed the war in Ukraine and supports our state!
Every day, Russian troops strike at military and civilian targets. What is the situation in the nuclear industry of Ukraine? Is there a threat to the radiation and nuclear safety of Ukraine?
Chronology of events in the nuclear industry during the war in Ukraine
The Kyiv City State Administration has announced a forest fire near the village of Dytyatky in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). Firefighters of the State Emergency Service and pyrotechnics are working on the spot, special equipment is involved. Rescuers from the State Emergency Service blew up in the woods, the cabin of the fire truck was blown up, and two people were hospitalized. Another 5 mines were detected and neutralized near the detonation site.
An IL-80 aircraft, an air command post of the russian leader in case of a nuclear emergency, was registered over moscow, so russia continues to threaten the use of nuclear weapons.
According to NNEGC “Energoatom”, the occupiers forcibly seized a special ZNPP vehicle on the territory of the Zaporizhzhya NPP machinery park, which is then used for gluing billboards in the city.
Demining teams of the National Guard of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine are working at the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone to detect and destroy explosive devices. CBRN Specialists were also involved in the demining.
At the Chornobyl NPP, the operation of individual dosimetric monitoring of Chornobyl personnel has been completely resumed. This was announced by the head of the Chornobyl radiation safety department Leonid Yakovenko.
After the occupation, Chornobyl NPP resumed dust suppression activities. On May 1 and 2, the Shelter Operations Department and the new Safe Confinement successfully completed dust suppression activities to reduce the spread of radioactive substances in the Shelter’s roof space.
According to the Politico periodical, the EU is considering a ban on russia’s import of nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants and the cessation of cooperation with rosatom to overcome energy dependence on russia. The EU currently imports the uranium needed for nuclear reactors, including 20% from russia, making it the second largest supplier after Niger.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has started the process of prosecuting the seizure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.
A reliable power supply scheme in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone has been restored. The last required 330 kV transmission line was put into operation.
Zaporizhzhya NPP continues to remain under the control of russian occupation forces. In particular, 8 nuclear engineers were delegated to the Ukrainian nuclear power plant by rosenergoatom (a rosatom’s subsidiary), which demanded confidential information from the ZNPP management on the operation of the NPP, namely: administration and management, maintenance and repair, safety and nuclear fuel management, spent nuclear fuel and Radwaste management.
On russia 1, putin’s propagandists olga skabeeva and state duma deputy oleksiy zhuravlov from the LDPR faction openly threatened a nuclear strike on three countries that supply weapons to Ukraine: UK, Germany and France. They demonstrated a picture with the caption “approaching time of RS-28 “Sarmat” missiles to the capitals of the countries supplying Ukraine the most weapons”, according to which the flight time of Sarmat from Kaliningrad to Berlin is 106 seconds, to Paris: 200 seconds, to London: 202 seconds.
The Khmelnytskyi NPP was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency under the Agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The Pivdennoukrainska NPP was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency under the Agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Inspectors of the IAEA and the SNRIU conducted an inventory of nuclear material at the Chornobyl facilities. In addition, the IAEA’s remote monitoring system resumed its operation with the support of the Agency’s technical specialists.
At 6:41 and 6:46, two enemy cruise missiles flew at low altitude over the ZNPP site in the direction of Zaporizhzhya, where explosions caused by russian cruise missiles were subsequently recorded. This threatens the whole world with a nuclear and radiation catastrophe.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi arrived in Ukraine leading the IAEA expert mission for radiological monitoring and other expert assessments at ChNPP after five weeks of russian occupation. According to the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, IAEA provided various types of radiation monitoring equipment, including radionuclide identification devices and gamma dose rate meters, personal protective equipment at ChNPP, etc.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine has decided to suspend a number of licenses that actually suspend the decommissioning of Units 1, 2 and 3, the operation of Radwaste management facilities and certain activities in the field of nuclear energy use. According to the SNRIU, after a long-term occupation by the Russian troops, the Chornobyl NPP is unable to comply with the conditions of the above-mentioned activities established by the rules and standards on nuclear and radiation safety. The management of the Chornobyl NPP believes that the decision destabilizes the company’s activity, and hopes that the licenses will be renewed after providing justifications confirming the absence of violations.
At 8:10, a new threat to the nuclear security of Ukraine and the world occurred. Above the cooling pool of the Khmelnytsky NPP, two cruise missiles fired by the russian military were recorded, probably in the direction of Rivne or Zdolbuniv.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine issued an individual permit for the commissioning of the Centralized Spent Fuel Storage Facility that was expected on March 9, but was delayed due to the russian aggression and presence of occupation troops in the Chornobyl exclusion zone.
In an interview with the russian First Channel, russian Foreign Minister serhii lavrov spoke about the reality of the risk of a nuclear war.
ZNPP and Enerhodar are still captured and controlled by the russian military, but all ZNPP power units are maintained by Ukrainian personnel and operated for the needs of Ukraine. The rotation of workers is provided.
ZNPP is still under the control of the russian occupation forces, and rosatom representatives still stay at ZNPP. They informed the ZNPP management and employees about their intentions to include the Ukrainian NPP in the structure of rosatom. Its representatives have already started monitoring technological and management processes at ZNPP.
The ChNPP maintenance personnel restored the direct telephone connection of the NPP site with the duty officer of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine.
Three cruise missiles, probably fired from the territory of Belarus in the direction of Mykolaiiv, flew over the South Ukraine NPP site. One of them was recorded by the SUNPP surveillance cameras. The threat of falling into a nuclear reactor with possible consequences – a nuclear accident, was high.
After power supply restoration, checks of equipment and devices, the Centralized Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) is ready for work in the exclusion zone!
Dmytro medvediev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, said that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will move nuclear weapons to the Baltics.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suspends russia’s membership in the Nuclear Energy Agency since 11 May, which it acquired in 2013.
All russian soldiers, who dug in the Red Forest received lethal exposure doses. This was reported by Doctor of Technical Sciences, Leading Researcher of the Department of Thermochemical Processes and Nanotechnologies of the Institute of Gas of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Simeyko: “Digging trenches, the invaders raised a layer of soil containing particles with high radiation. We are talking about radioactive isotopes of cesium, carbon, uranium and other elements that have been deposited on the ground for decades after the ChNPP accident”
During the russian occupation, the Centralized Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) was not damaged, and measures are being taken to prepare for fuel acceptance immediately after the end of martial law.
The second rotation of personnel since the beginning of ChNPP occupation took place, within which 51 employees returned to Slavutych: 40 employees who agreed to go to the occupied NPP for rotation on 20 March, and 11 employees who worked at the NPP since 23 February. As of April 9, there are no people at the ChNPP who were at the NPP during its capture
The ChNPP personnel continue to perform their assigned tasks and assess the scope of damage caused by the occupying forces of the russian federation. In particular, radiological survey of the NPP site is underway. The occupiers completely neglected the rules of radiation safety, which led to radiation contamination of the ChNPP office and industrial premises.
The State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management reports that the russian troops completely looted and destroyed the automated radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone. The offices and laboratory of the Institute for Safety Problems of NPPs were looted and destroyed by the russian invaders. Computers, office equipment were taken away, laboratory equipment and measuring devices were broken or destroyed. Garages with vehicles used to transport scientists to research sites were also looted. In the laboratories of the Institute for Safety Problems of NPPs, there were radiation sources and samples of fuel-containing materials from the Shelter, which were used by scientists during studies. The location of these materials is also unknown.
The Energy Community has formed a Fund for Ukraine to restore the energy infrastructure destroyed by the russian war. Fund donors will be EU member states. Denmark made the first contribution.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine published Order No. 585 dated 6 April 2022 “On Approval of Methodological Recommendations for Actions in Nuclear Damage Zones”, which should be applied in the event of the use of tactical and/or strategic nuclear weapons and determine preventive measures aimed at reducing the consequences of using nuclear weapons among the public.
During the plenary meeting of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), it was decided to exclude rostekhnadzor (rf) and gosatomnadzor (Republic of Belarus) from the participation in organization events. Until a separate decision is made, these institutions will not have the right to participate in WENRA activities.
Units of the National Guard arrived at ChNPP to protect and defense nuclear facilities, as well as provide security of nuclear materials.
The European Technical Safety Organizations Network (ETSON) decided to suspend cooperation with the russian STC NRS at an extraordinary meeting of full members of the ETSON Council.
At the ChNPP industrial site, the operating personnel ensuring nuclear and radiation safety of the ChNPP facilities raised the flag of Ukraine under the conditions of occupation.
Russian occupiers left ChNPP forcing ChNPP workers to sign a certificate of ChNPP acceptance. From the territory of ChNPP, the occupiers took away transfer casks, spare parts to repair NPP equipment, as well as computers, coffee makers, teapots and tableware from the hotel near the NPP.
In Gomel, 7 medical vehicles were identified, which arrived at the Republican Scientific and Practical Center for Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology. In particular, it is reported that the exposed russian invaders arrived from ChNPP.
Rosatom representatives continue to stay at the ZNPP site. ZNPP personnel and their families are under continuous psychological pressure, and cases have been registered of personnel being detained by russian occupiers for interrogation.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi made a two-day diplomatic visit to Ukraine at the South Ukraine NPP, whose purpose was to negotiate on nuclear safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.
The neutron source was shelled once again, however, no new damage was identified.
Due to the russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Swedish company Vattenfall, which is one of the largest producers and sellers of electricity and heat in Europe, has refused to continue purchasing russian nuclear fuel for its nuclear power plants until further notice is made. It should be noted that the contract was signed by Vattenfall in 2016 for nuclear fuel supply for the Ringhals 3 and Ringhals 4 reactors from 2018 to 2025.
Russian occupiers captured Slavutych, where personnel of ChNPP, as well as facilities and enterprises located in the exclusion zone, and their families live. This forms additional moral and psychological pressure on operating personnel ensuring nuclear and radiation safety of the facilities at the ChNPP site.
The neutron source was shelled once again and due to this, significant damage of the thermal insulating lining of the neutron source building and partial shedding of coating materials in the experimental hall of the facility was detected.
To deter NATO involvement in Ukraine, russian president vladimir putin could order the use of tactical nuclear weapons and strike at Poland. Former commander of the joint forces of NATO in Europe, General Wesley Clark thinks so.
At a meeting of the members of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), it was decided to suspend the participation of scientists of the organization in all scientific committees of institutions located on the territory of russian federation and the Republic of Belarus, and vice versa; as well as to suspend and even cancel events organized by CERN together with institutions located on the territory of russian federation and the Republic of Belarus. Moreover, the meeting participants decided to stop scientific contacts with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) located in Dubna, russia and suspend its observer status until further notice is made.
An unexploded 9K58 Smerch multiple launch rocket system was found near the neutron source, which forms a potential hazard of a new explosion. The relevant authorities have been informed about this. In addition, the personnel noted damage of windows and lining of buildings. Despite this, there is no new damage of the pumping room, cooling towers, isotope laboratory of the neutron source, as well as systems and components that affect safety.
The russian invaders looted and destroyed the Central Analytical Laboratory in Chornobyl, in which highly active samples and samples of radionuclides were located. At the same time, an unauthorized entry into the storage facility for radiation sources took place, in which reference radioactive solutions and calibration sources were stored. The occupiers stole and damaged 133 sources with a total activity of about 7 million becquerels. The location of the stolen sources is unknown. The degree of integrity and safety of the calibration sources and reference radioactive solutions cannot be determined, and the condition of the damaged ones will be clarified after a relevant inventory and measurements.
Rosatom representatives have been illegally present at the ZNPP site for a long time. Due to the presence of russian occupation forces and a large number of military equipment at the ZNPP site and in satellite city Enerhodar, personnel and their families are under continuous psychological pressure. This can lead to errors in personnel work, which affect NPP safety and lead to emergencies or accidents at NPPs.
At ChNPP, which is under the occupation of the russian federation, a partial rotation of personnel took place. 50 employees were replaced by 46 NPP employees who volunteered to perform their official duties for proper operation of the Chornobyl facilities.
Since hostilities are continued in the Piatykhatky region in Kharkiv, there is still no power supply of the neutron source.
For 23 days in a row without rotation, the ChNPP personnel courageously and heroically perform their functions to ensure the safe operation of these facilities. It is impossible to replace personnel in combat conditions, although rotation scenarios are being actively developed.
Hostilities in the Piatykhatky region in Kharkiv led to damage of power supply lines, due to which the power supply of the neutron source was stopped.
Due to the hostilities in the region and capture of the ZNPP site and nearby territories by the russian occupation forces, there is a potential threat of ZNPP de-energization. The Zaporizhzhya, South Donbass and Kakhovka 750 kV high-voltage lines were damaged, which led to the disconnection of the ZNPP autotransformer communication line (750/330 kV) with the Zaporizhzhya TPP from 14:00 to 20:00. After repair of the detected damage, the line was restored.
Power supply of all facilities was restored at the ChNPP site, all diesel generators that provided emergency power supply for these facilities were disconnected at 17.45. The information on ChNPP power supply from the Belarusian Mozyr 330 kV substation was disproved by the Energoatom.
Two 750 kV high-voltage lines (Zaporizhzhya and South Donbass) are still not connected, the Kakhovka high-voltage line was disconnected at 14:29.
Until now, two 750 kV high-voltage lines (Zaporizhzhya and South Donbass) remain disconnected.
For twenty days there is no rotation of the ChNPP personnel, who courageously and heroically continue to perform their functions to ensure the safe operation of the ChNPP facilities. It is impossible to replace personnel in combat conditions, although rotation scenarios are being actively developed.
The line energizing ChNPP and Slavutych was again damaged by occupiers after its repair by the Ukrenergo repair team.
Russian occupation troops in close proximity to the ZNPP units detonated unexploded ordnances during the shelling of the industrial site on 4 March 2022.
The Ukrenergo repair team repaired the high-voltage power line energizing ChNPP and Slavutych. At 19:07, the line was energized and restoration of the power supply for ChNPP and Slavutych infrastructure has started. However, it was not possible to complete these activities, because occupiers soon damaged the line again. The Ukrenergo repair team is forced to go again to the occupied territory near ChNPP to look for and eliminate new damage.
According to ZNPP, there is a continuous rotation of operating and daytime personnel who monitor the state of power units and ensure their safe operation in accordance with the requirements of operational documents. The NPP automated radiation monitoring system and automated radiation monitoring system in the control area and observation area are operated in regular mode, no changes in the radiation situation at the NPP site, in the observation area and in the control area have been recorded.
11 representatives of the russian state atomic energy corporation rosatom arrived at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. These persons do not interfere in the operation of nuclear facilities yet, NPP management and operation is carried out exclusively by the ZNPP personnel, however, all technical solutions should be coordinated with the invaders. Ukraine did not make any request for advisory, technical or other assistance from the russian federation. The presence of these persons on the territory of ZNPP is illegal and is in no way related to nuclear and radiation safety.
Two 750 kV high-voltage lines (Zaporizhzhya and South Donbass) have not yet been connected; measures are being taken to restore the damaged high-voltage lines. This issue is complicated by active hostilities in the places where the lines are damaged.
Once again, the neutron source in Kharkiv was bombed, due to which it was completely de-energized and there was surface damage of the building. The power supply of systems/components important to safety has been restored. Damage that could affect the state of nuclear and radiation safety was not identified.
As a result of the damage of the 750 kV ChNPP – Kyiv high-voltage line caused by invaders’ shelling, ChNPP and all nuclear facilities of the exclusion zone were de-energized. Due to the lack of power supply, there is no cooling of the spent fuel assemblies located in the spent fuel storage facility. As a result, the temperature in the spent fuel pools will increase, which causes steam generation and release of radioactive substances into the environment. Moreover, due to the de-energization, the fire extinguishing system will not work, as well as ventilation, and the NPP personnel can receive a dangerous radiation dose. Power supply restoration is impossible due to hostilities.
For the thirteenth day, there has been no rotation of the ChNPP personnel, who courageously and heroically continue to perform their functions to ensure the safe operation of the ChNPP facilities. Regulatory control of the state of nuclear and radiation safety at the ChNPP site and on the territory of the exclusion zone is not possible yet.
The Council of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suspended the participation of russia and Belarus in OECD bodies.
ZNPP-6 was shut down for emergency maintenance. As a result of ZNPP site shelling on 4 March and after a detailed inspection, it was detected that the oil system of the unit transformer was damaged.
Nuclear research facility “Neutron Source” located at the site of the National Science Center “Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology” was bombed. Due to this, the RU-0.4 kV substation was destroyed, cooling system air conditioner cables of the klister gallery of the linear electron accelerator were damaged; the heating line to the system of buildings and structures of the neutron source was damaged, windows were broken in the building of the pump room and cooling towers, in the isotope laboratory. In some places, there was surface damage of the main facility building.
Several sensors for monitoring the neutron flux, gamma radiation dose rate and air radiation contamination failed in the Chornobyl zone at the Shelter. Due to this, further monitoring of criticality and a number of radiation parameters in one of facility rooms is impossible. Due to the lack of a sufficient number of maintenance personnel and special equipment as a result of the occupation, the restoration of damaged equipment of systems important to nuclear and radiation safety is not carried out.
On this day, the occupiers also staged the provision of humanitarian assistance, in particular food and cigarettes. This action was aimed at forming informational occasions for the media and was not related to the assistance of the ChNPP personnel, which have been held hostage by the russian military for almost two weeks. After the categorical and public refusal of the enterprise personnel from the “help” of the occupiers, the enemy used tricks: the military put on the NOVARKA uniform, which was available in changing rooms and they accepted the assistance with joy and gratitude. This was filmed by the russian media.
At 16:06, the 750 kV high-voltage line was disconnected due to its damage as a result of shelling in the area of the Vasylivka village, Zaporizhzhya region.
ZNPP operating personnel is constantly under the pressure of the armed occupiers, although, despite this, they continue to monitor the state of the power units and provide their operation.
The Zaporizhzhya NPP was captured. As a result of artillery shelling of the ZNPP industrial site, ZNPP-1 reactor building was damaged, two artillery shells hit the area where the Dry Spent Fuel Storage Facility Site was located. As a result of a fire caused by enemy shelling of the ZNPP industrial site, the building of the training center, which is located close to the ZNPP industrial site, was damaged.
The Polish Nuclear Society has issued a statement on the termination of cooperation and any official contacts with russian organizations until the end of hostilities and bringing to justice all those responsible for violating international law.
There has been no rotation of the operating personnel at the Chornobyl NPP for 7 days. It is impossible to replace personnel in combat conditions, although rotation scenarios are being actively developed. Control over the state of nuclear and radiation safety of nuclear installations and other facilities at the ChNPP industrial site and on the territory of the exclusion zone has been lost.
30 km from the South Ukraine NPP, fighting continues near Voznesensk: rashist vehicles drive into the city, Voznesensk is shelled by Grad missiles. According to adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko, a group of more than 20 helicopters of occupiers with paratroopers flew from the Mykolaiiv region towards Voznesensk, where the South Ukraine NPP is located. However, the Ukrainian military stopped the invaders’ offensive, and two bridges were blown up to prevent approaching of the russian military to SUNPP.
As a result of rocket attacks, the communication network of the Zaporizhzhya NPP was damaged. After that, the automated radiation monitoring system (ARMS) of the Zaporizhzhya NPP fully lost its operability and failed to transmit data to the International Radiation Monitoring Information System (IRMIS). ARMS repair and resumption of its work is complicated by military operations near the Zaporizhzhya NPP.
At night, at 01:20, near the Kyiv Radon radioactive waste disposal site, a shell hit the fence. According to the Radon Corporation, as a result of the explosion, the radioactive waste disposal facilities remained undamaged. Any activities related to radioactive waste management, including transport of radioactive materials, were terminated. The radiation background is within 0.09-0.15 µSv/h, there is no surface contamination.
On the fourth day of the war against Ukraine, Putin made a statement about the transfer of the deterrent forces of the Russian army to a special mode of combat duty and ordered to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert. With this statement, the President of the Russian Federation considered possible to use nuclear weapons on the territory of Ukraine.
Today, four operating nuclear power plants in Ukraine are operated in regular mode and are under special control, since there are risks of their capture. Near Energodar, which is a satellite city of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, active battles continue, eyewitnesses report on numerous military equipment. Cruise and ballistic missiles were randomly fired from the territory of Belarus at Ukrainian cities, that is why the power units of the Rivne and Khmelnitsky nuclear power plants are under threat.
On this day, in order to spread fake news about the shelling of invaders in Chornobyl by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy Russian troops simulated an air battle over the exclusion zone. This was reported by the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management. However, it should be noted that the Ukrainian military troops are aware of the consequences and do not conduct military operations near the Chornobyl zone.
Online, the Automated Radiation Monitoring System (ARMS) recorded an increase in the radiation background of the Chornobyl exclusion zone, which was associated with disturbance of the topsoil due to the movement of heavy equipment and rise of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.
The radiation state at operating nuclear power plants and adjacent territories has not changed and is within standard values. As for the situation on the territory of the exclusion zone and zones of unconditional (mandatory) resettlement, to this day there is no access to the automated radiation monitoring system. The latest recorded data indicate that the average values of the equivalent dose rate in the area of radioactive waste storage facilities (Vektor, Pidlisnyi, Stage 3 and Buryakivka) are up to 15 times higher.
At 20:00, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal informed that all facilities of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant have been taken under the control of Russian armed groups. ChNPP workers are held hostage.
- State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine
- State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management
- State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety
- Energoatom Company
Uatom.org Editorial Board