Occupation of Zaporizhzhia NPP Is Act of International Nuclear Terrorism of Russian Federation

Zaporizhzhia NPP (ZNPP) is the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Europe, which has 6 VVER power units with a total capacity of 6000 MW. The construction of ZNPP started in 1981, the first unit was commissioned in 1984, the sixth – in 1996.

In addition, in 1996, the construction of a training center (TC) for personnel was initiated, but during the economic crisis in 1998-2002, the construction was frozen. In 2007, Ukraine and EU signed an Agreement on the Joint Completion of Construction and Commissioning of the Center. The project is co-financed by the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine. In TC, a simulator system transported from the unfinished Crimean NPP in Shchelkino was opened for special training of the maintenance personnel. It is a full-scale simulator for VVER-1000. Not only Ukrainian experts studied at the center, but also foreign experts operating or planning to operate VVER-1000. Under assistance of the European Commission, four simulators, industrial and office furniture, computer and projection equipment and other equipment for 22 training laboratories were supplied, the best world methodologies to train the maintenance personnel of the NPP operator company were transferred.

For the first time in Ukraine, a dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility (dry SFSF) was constructed at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, whose commercial operation started in 2004, and since then, the spent fuel from ZNPP was not transferred to the russian federation for storage and processing. The dry SFSF technology is based on the storage of spent fuel assemblies in ventilated concrete containers.

By military invasion of Ukraine with the seizure of nuclear facilities, russia violates all established laws and rules of the civilized democratic world, purposefully creates a humanitarian catastrophe and policy of genocide and ethnocide of the Ukrainian people. The forcible seizure of a facility for peaceful nuclear energy use by the military is an undisguised act of international nuclear terrorism, which poses a threat to the life and well-being of European countries and the world. Such actions of a nuclear state contradict the international principles proclaimed in the Protocols to the Geneva Convention, according to which the conduct of hostilities at nuclear power plants and hydroelectric power plants is prohibited. According to the decision of the IAEA General Conference as of 2009, any armed attack and threat to nuclear facilities intended for peaceful purposes violates the principles of the UN Charter, international law and the Charter of the Agency.

How It All Started?

On 27 February, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed IAEA about approaching of russian troops to the Zaporizhzhia NPP. On 2 March, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated that russia had informed IAEA that the territory around ZNPP was taken under control by russian forces. According to the Energoatom, in the evening of 3 March, russian invaders with heavy equipment consisting of about 100 units, broke through the checkpoint at the entrance to Enerhodar and ZNPP and broke into the city.

At night, at 01:40 on 4 March, as a result of ZNPP site shelling, several fires arose. In particular, the occupiers shelled closely the NPP territory, nearby infrastructure, and the training center, which eventually caught fire.

During ZNPP seizure by the russian military, the reactor building of power unit No. 1 was damaged, and 2 artillery shells hit the site of the dry spent fuel storage facility. In addition, as a result of ZNPP site shelling by the russian military, the oil system of the unit transformer of power unit No. 6 became inoperable. As a result of a fire caused by shelling of the ZNPP industrial site, the building of the training center was damaged.

Due to continuous shelling and preventing from entering the territory of the nuclear power plant, Ukrainian firefighters could not start fire extinguishing in time. The administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and NPP checkpoint were under fire until 4:30, until they were under the control of the invaders. Only as of 5:20 a.m., units of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine were allowed to enter the Zaporizhzhia NPP by occupiers to extinguish fires. The ZNPP operational personnel remained at their workplaces to monitor the state of the power units and ensure their operation in accordance with the requirements of the technical specifications for safe operation.

Not all munitions exploded during shelling of the ZNPP industrial site, so the russian occupying forces decided to blow them up near power units, disregarding the rules of nuclear safety and security.

Damage and disconnection of high-voltage lines became the reasons for ZNPP blackout. So, on 6 March at 16:06, as a result of hostilities in the area of Vasylivka, Zaporizhzhia region, two Zaporizka and Pivdenno-Donbaska 750 kV high-voltage lines, as well as on 16 March at 14:29, Kakhovska line were deenergized.

In the comments for Ukrainian and foreign media, expert of the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) Dmytro Gumenyuk noted that a complete blackout of the Zaporizhzhia NPP threatens with an accident at the nuclear power plant, because due to malfunction or failure to connect of diesel generators in just three hours, core overheating and eventually melting will start. This will cause a greater release of radiation than at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Fukushima NPP reactors shut down automatically after an earthquake, which interrupted the power supply, but the backup power supply also failed when the tsunami flooded the buildings. The reaction between the superheated water and metal components of the reactor produced a huge amount of hydrogen, resulting in three explosions and release of radioactive substances into the air.

The probability of a repeat of the Fukushima NPP scenario was also noted in the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate. In particular, the experts explained that a nuclear power plant should have continuous power supply to ensure uninterrupted in-house supply: cooling of nuclear fuel in the reactor cores and cooling of spent fuel in spent fuel pools, support of monitoring and control systems. These needs are provided by operating power units or external power supply. After the loss of all power supply sources, the process of nuclear fuel melting will start, which again causes the release of radioactive substances into the environment.

Safety at the Cost of Life

On 11 March, it became known that 11 representatives of the rosatom state atomic energy corporation of the russian federation arrived at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. At first, they did not interfere in the operation of nuclear facilities, they only required that all technical solutions be approved by the ZNPP personnel, but later they started monitoring technological and management processes at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. It should be noted that the Energoatom and ZNPP did not request the advisory, technical or other assistance from russia. The presence of rosatom representatives on the territory of ZNPP is illegal and in no way connected with nuclear and radiation safety.

On 29 April, 8 more nuclear workers from the rosenergoatom arrived at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. They required confidential information about the NPP operation, namely: administration and management, maintenance and repair, safety and management of Westinghouse nuclear fuel, spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.

Already at the end of April, the first reports appeared about the transfer of the Zaporizhzhia NPP to the rosatom structure, and already on 16 May, according to the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, the invaders were instructed to prepare satellite city Enerhodar for the so-called referendum with the aim to finally join the satellite city to russia, and the Zaporizhzhia NPP to the rosatom.

Upon the arrival of rosatom representatives at ZNPP, the information appeared in the official reports of the Energoatom and news of the Ukrainian media about cases of detention of operational personnel for the purpose of interrogations, taking into account the fact that NPP employees and their families were under constant psychological pressure. However, after some time, the occupiers did not limit themselves to interrogating ZNPP workers and trying to demoralize people, but also used physical violence. Thus, on 23 May, an official statement was published on the Energoatom telegram channel that the russian military broke into the house of Serhii Shvets, an employee of the ZNPP power maintenance subdivision, and shot him with automatic weapons.

Kidnapping cases are still recorded, in particular, on 8 June, the Energoatom reported in its telegram channel that the invaders had detained and taken away 11 ZNPP employees in an unknown direction.

In July, according to the messages of the Energoatom telegram channel, Head of the ZNPP Environmental Protection Service Ihor Kvashnin, Deputy Head for Operation and Radioactive Waste Management of the Decontamination Shop Serhii Pykhtin, and foreman of the Decontamination Shop Olena Riabtseva were kidnapped. In addition, the occupiers forcibly took away the passes and entered the radiation area of ZNPP-2, thereby violating the established standards for stay in this area and controllability of the spread of radiation contamination beyond it.

As a result of shelling of Enerhodar on 14 August, one of ZNPP workers was killed, and on 28 August, four workers of the nuclear power plant received injuries of varying severity. This information was published on the Energoatom telegram channel.

In September, pressure on the ZNPP personnel increased, the number of abductions and interrogations using torture increased. So, on 30 September, at about 4:00 pm, the russian patrol police abducted ZNPP Director General Ihor Murashov. He was taken away blindfolded in an unknown direction. Ihor Murashov, ZNPP Director General, was in captivity for four days and was released on 4 October, and already on 5 October, the russians announced establishing Joint-Stock Company “Zaporizhzhia NPP Operating Organization” by rosatom with registration in Moscow, which was aimed at managing the occupied ZNPP.

In “The Hole: Gruesome Accounts of Russian Occupation Emerge from Ukrainian Nuclear Plant” published in The Wall Street Journal, Ihor Murashov and other employees of the Zaporizhzhia NPP shared information about detention and torture of employees from technical and maintenance personnel to the top management of the Ukrainian NPP. They talked about the underground prisons formed by the russian FSB near the nuclear power plant, where detained workers were beaten with gun butts and batons, shot in the legs and elbows, deprived of food, and had electrodes attached to their ears and fingers.

Some people were detained and tortured in a basement located in a former base of the Ukrainian National Guard, which the russians called the Pit. There, an underwater repairman Andrii Honcharuk was beaten into coma. He died later. One of the maintenance technicians who spent more than 70 days in the prisons described the Pit as an underground room with wooden boxes and boards for sleeping, no windows, and a single guarded entrance that smelled of feces and chlorine antiseptic. He was shot in the leg and the wound was infected. First, the guards threatened to rape his wife, and then stripped him as well. The facial bruises were needed for a propaganda video. Another expert of the reactor building at unit No. 2 told about beating with a cable and electric shock torture.

During October, russian terrorists abducted ZNPP Deputy Director General for Personnel Valerii Martyniuk, Head of ZNPP Information Technology Service Oleh Kostiukov, and Oleh Oshek, Assistant of ZNPP Director General for interrogation and torture.

As of 18 November (date of publishing “The Hole: Gruesome Accounts of Russian Occupation Emerge from Ukrainian Nuclear Plant” in The Wall Street Journal), according to the Energoatom, more than 200 ZNPP employees were abducted, dozens of whom are considered missing.

Nuclear Power Plant Is Not a Military Base

Capturing the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the invaders immediately pursued the goal of using it as a military base. As of 28 May, about 500 russian security officials, as well as a large amount of military equipment and explosives, were at the ZNPP site.

On 24 June, it became known that the invaders have built fortifications near the ZNPP site in order to strengthen their positions. Multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) were also seen near the Michurin village, which indicates preparations for hostilities near the nuclear power plant.

In July, the russian military placed at least 14 units of heavy military equipment with ammunition, weapons and explosives in the turbine hall of ZNPP-1. It is the place where equipment ensuring turbogenerator operation is located: an oil tank containing flammable oil that cools the steam turbine. There is also explosive hydrogen used to cool the generator. By placing military equipment in the turbine hall at ZNPP-1, the occupiers made impossible the access for fire trucks that increases the risk of fire.

Nuclear and radiation threat for Ukraine and the whole world is also manifested in the cases of cruise missiles flying over the ZNPP site and other nuclear power plants of Ukraine recorded by video surveillance cameras. For the first time, two enemy cruise missiles flew at low altitude over the ZNPP site on 26 April at 06:41 and 06:46 in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, where explosions were subsequently heard. On 13 July, at 10 a.m. in Enerhodar, the Ka-52 fire support helicopter of the russian air and space forces was recorded flying over the no-fly zone. It dropped an unknown cylindrical object onto one of the buildings of the training center located in front of the ZNPP industrial site.

5 August was the beginning of targeted shelling of ZNPP and Energodar by russian invaders. At 14:30, three hits were recorded near the ZNPP industrial site, in particular, into the ZNPP autotransformer open switch gear – Zaporizhzhia TPP 330 kV high-voltage communication line, which was damaged as a result of this. Scram was actuated at one of the power units, diesel generators were connected. The unit power was decreased and unit was disconnected from the grid. In the evening, shelling of the ZNPP site using MLRS was repeated, as a result of which three attacks were recorded near the building of one of the power units where the nuclear reactor was located. In addition, the nitrogen-oxygen station and the adjacent auxiliary building were damaged by russian terrorists, which increased the risk of hydrogen leakage and radioactive dispersion.

The next day, on 6 August, the invaders once again shelled the NPP site and hit it near the dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility. As a result of enemy rocket attacks, three radiation monitoring sensors around the ZNPP dry SFSF, about 800 sq. m of window surfaces in different NPP buildings were damaged.

On 11 August, 5 hits were recorded near the ZNPP commandant’s office, next to the section for welding and storage of radiation sources. In addition, the fire department located on the ZNPP territory and intended for protection against fires and extinguishing them in case of emergencies at NPP was also shelled. On 19-20 August, shelling was carried out in the direction of the ZNPP training center and damaged one of the transition galleries, through which personnel move from special buildings to power units.

According to the Energoatom, as of the end of August, there were more than 40 units of military equipment on the NPP territory, including 16 military vehicles near power unit No. 1, and 7 near unit No. 2. Another 12 units of equipment were under the overpass. The russian occupants additionally brought two armored personnel carriers and six special trucks to the ZNPP maintenance area.

According to the US Institute for War Research, drone footage showed russian military equipment moving around and inside the nuclear power plant with the first of six nuclear reactors. After digging trenches around the nuclear power plant, the occupiers located their firing positions in them to shell the nearest cities on the right bank of the Dnieper controlled by Ukraine.

On 24 October, it became known that the occupiers conducted unauthorized construction on the territory of the ZNPP dry spent fuel storage facility, which is an illegal intrusion in the design of a nuclear facility and a gross violation of both the terms of the license for NPP operation and international requirements in the area of nuclear and radiation safety. It should be noted that 173 spent fuel containers are stored at the dry SFSF, whose damage can cause a radiation accident and radiation contamination of adjacent territories.

According to the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, such actions violate the license for activities at ZNPP operation life stage and violate para. 1.9. of the Requirements for Modifications of Nuclear Facilities and Procedure for Assessing Their Safety approved by SNRIU Order No. 4 of 10 January 2005. SNRIU published the Order of 28 October 2022, according to which construction, installation and commissioning in the scope of reconstruction and modernization are prohibited. The Energoatom was instructed to take measures to maintain the conditions necessary for ensuring labor safety, personnel health, environmental protection.

On 1 November, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense announced that the russian occupiers deployed electronic warfare systems on the roof of unit No. 5.

At least 12 hits were recorded as a result of shelling the ZNPP industrial site by the russian military on 20 November. Due to this, overpasses for connection with special buildings, chemically desalted water storage tanks, steam generator blowdown system, auxiliary systems of one of the two general NPP diesel engines and other equipment of the NPP infrastructure were damaged. Three hits were also recorded in the area of ​​the Raiduga substation. The information on damage and destruction there is still being clarified. According to IAEA experts who are permanently at the ZNPP site, “some buildings, systems and equipment at the ZNPP site were damaged, but none of them is critical for nuclear safety.”

As you can see, there is heavy military equipment, armed invaders on the ZNPP territory all the time, nuclear facilities are repeatedly shelled, and the russians continue to turn the Ukrainian nuclear power plant into a military base. SSTC NRS expert Dmytro Gumenyuk repeatedly noted that although the ZNPP units were designed back in the 1970s, they are quite safe, since Ukraine has implemented a number of measures to improve safety, in particular, upon the results of stress tests. However, no design envisaged that a nuclear power plant could be occupied or forced to operate under conditions of war and full-scale hostilities, for which the existing safety systems are not designed and there are no protective mechanisms against shelling by heavy weapons.

It is important to note that, in accordance with the current legislation, the Energoatom operating organization monitors continuously the radiation situation at NPP sites, in the control area and 30 km observation areas around NPP using the automated radiation monitoring systems (ARMS). ARMS perform the function of early warning in case of an accident with radioactive release and should confirm the results of a mathematical projection with specific measurements. Projected estimates for Zaporizhzhia NPP are performed daily, taking into account real weather conditions, to assess the directions and distances of radioactive substance propagation in case of their release. These projected estimates are necessary for the timely provision of recommendations to the authorities on radiation protection measures for the public of Ukraine, as well as informing neighboring countries in case of a risk of transboundary transfer.

Due to the events at ZNPP and increase in the risks of emergency situations, since 4 April 2022, the work of the Information and Emergency Center (IEC) of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate has been activated in a continuous mode. The IEC personnel monitor the impact of external and internal events on the safety of nuclear facilities, project the trajectories of air masses in the area of the ZNPP industrial site in the event of an emergency, and ensure international exchange. With the increase in active shelling of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, SNRIU strengthens interaction and information exchange with the centers for assessing and projecting consequences of radiation accidents both in Ukraine and abroad, publishes examples of the modeling results from various scientific and expert organizations after comparing and verifying their projected estimates. As part of the international information exchange, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate provides conditional examples of atmospheric transfer models and dose estimates from Cs-137 and in total from all other radionuclides obtained by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which is the developer of the European real-time decision support system RODOS for the Zaporizhzhia NPP site.

Cold Shutdown: What Does It Mean and Will Zaporizhzhia NPP Be Operated in Future

On 18 August, the Acting Chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine – Chief State Inspector for Nuclear and Radiation Safety Oleh Korikov signed an order to amend the licenses for the operation of ZNPP-1 and 2. According to the order, unit No. 1 is operated by the operating organization in the refueling – cold shutdown states, and unit No. 2 – in the cold shutdown state. The ground for amending was the Energoatom statement and documents envisaged by the regulations, as well as SNRIU Board Ordinance “On the Current Safety State of Zaporizhzhia NPP Units in the Conditions of Occupation by the Military of the Russian Federation” dated 4 August 2022.

Article “An alarming tug-o’-war over a Ukrainian nuclear plant” by The Economist notes that four of the NPP reactors are in the cold shutdown, and two are in the hot shutdown. This means that they are still operated, but at a much lower temperature than usual, and are able to produce steam to heat many of the NPP buildings and even part of the nearby city, but not at high enough pressure to actuate the turbines that normally produce electricity.

Therefore, cold shutdown is the safe state of a nuclear reactor when it is shut down at low pressure and low temperature of the cooling water. This is an intermediate state of a nuclear reactor between operation and refueling. During a cold shutdown, the reactor does not generate electricity and can be in this state for a long time when connected to the grid. If a unit is at power operation, then in the event of blackout, fuel melting process can start in three hours. If the reactor is in a cold shutdown state, then the personnel will have 57 hours to resume power. Therefore, a cold shutdown is safer than reactor full power operation.

From Disconnection of Power Lines to Deenergization and Total Blackout

As a result of hostilities in the area of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and fires at the ash dumps of the Zaporizhzhia TPP, on 25 August, the Dniprovska PL-750 kV overhead line was disconnected twice. Three other communication lines were damaged due to russian shelling. This led to ZNPP-5 shutdown followed by scram actuation, unit No. 6 was transferred to in-house power supply. On the same day, the operability of the Dniprovska PL-750 kV overhead line was restored and unit No. 6 was connected to the grid, however, already at 14:14, the Dniprovska PL-750 kV overhead line was disconnected again, due to this, unit No. 6 was again disconnected from the grid with subsequent scram actuation. Thus, for the first time, the actions of the russian invaders led to ZNPP complete blackout. The NPP’s in-house power supply was provided from the energy system of Ukraine through the ZNPP – Zaporizhzhia TPP communication line. Start-up operations were carried out to connect one of the power units to the grid, and the next day two of the shut down ZNPP units were connected to the grid.

If in August the russian invaders targeted ZNPP facilities, then in September they directed all their weapons to damage power lines and deenergize the nuclear power plant. Already on 1 September, when the IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was scheduled, the NPP was deenergized for the second time. This happened after a mortar attack on the Enerhodar satellite town and Zaporizhzhia NPP site and resulted in the shutdown of unit No. 5 followed by scram actuation. In addition, the ZNPP-330 kV in-house backup power line was damaged. In the transient mode, not operated unit No. 2 was deenergized and the diesel generators were started. The power unit was connected to the grid the next day. As of 2 September, two ZNPP power units were operated that produced electricity for the needs of Ukraine.

In the first days of September, the russian military intensively shelled the area around the Zaporizhzhia NPP trying to deenergize it. In particular, the 750 kV ZNPP – Dniprovska, 330 kV ZTPP – Kakhovska, 330 kV ZTPP – Melitopol, 330 kV ZTPP – Ferosplavna power lines, as well as 750/330 kV ZNPP autotransformer were damaged and disconnected. Therefore, only unit No. 6 remained in operation, which provided ZNPP in-house power supply at a critically low power level (from 114 to 140 MW). On 11 September, the last unit No. 6 was disconnected from the grid to prepare for its cooldown and transfer to a cold state.

On 21 September, the invaders once again fired at ZNPP and damaged the communication equipment of unit No. 6 with the ZNPP open switchgear, as a result of which the unit transformer and in-house unit transformers were disconnected. Due to the loss of power, an emergency start of two diesel generators of the safety systems occurred to ensure operation of the fuel cooling pumps. However, the operational personnel arranged the unit No. 6 in-house power supply from the bus system of other NPP units.

In October, shelling of power lines continued. On 8 October, the occupiers once again damaged the 750 kV ZNPP-Dniprovska communication line, as a result of which ZNPP was deenergized and diesel generators were connected. According to the Energoatom, diesel fuel reserves could be enough only for ten days, but Ukrainian power engineers repaired the high-voltage line the next day.

New ZNPP shutdown occurred on 12 and 17 October, also as a result of enemy rocket attacks. On 12 October, russian troops damaged the Dniprovska substation in the Dnipropetrovsk region, due to which the 750 kV ZNPP-Dniprovska communication line was disconnected in emergency mode. Although the Ukrainian experts resumed its operation, however, on 17 October, the critical infrastructure substations were once again subjected to shelling, which again led to ZNPP deenergization.

If earlier the damage of high-voltage power lines was associated with enemy rocket attacks, then on 25 October, the external 750 kV power line was disconnected due to a landmine explosion outside the ZNPP fence.

On 2 November, the russian military damaged the last two high-voltage ZNPP lines for communication with the Ukrainian energy system. At 23:04, the NPP was transferred to a complete blackout. All 20 diesel generators were connected, but only 9 remained in operation. Units No. 5 and 6 were transferred to a cold state. According to the Energoatom, diesel generators may only have enough fuel for 15 days. ZNPP was in complete blackout for two days. On 4 November, at about 22:00, Ukrainian power engineers resumed 750 kV power supply at all six ZNPP units, and eight operating emergency diesel generators were disconnected and transferred to the standby mode.

On 23 November, russian missile attacks on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine took place. For the first time in the 40-year history of the Ukrainian nuclear power industry, all nuclear power units were disconnected. First, due to frequency decrease in the power system of Ukraine, scram was actuated at the Rivne, Pivdennoukrainsk and Khmelnitsky NPPs and all power units were automatically disconnected, and ZNPP was transferred to the full blackout mode with the launch of all diesel generators. ZNPP in-house power supply was provided from the energy system of Ukraine the next day, and all diesel generators were disconnected and transferred to the standby mode.

IAEA and Its Mission to ZNPP

With the start of the russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian regulator continues to perform its main functions and daily informs IAEA about the safety state of nuclear facilities.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expresses concern about the situation at Ukrainian nuclear facilities and emphasizes the need to avoid any measures or actions that could jeopardize the safe operation of nuclear facilities. Due to the situation at ZNPP, IAEA transfers the Incident and Emergency Center to the emergency response mode.

At the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors on 2 March, the Agency’s Director General identified seven essential nuclear safety and security components that should be maintained during the russian invasion of Ukraine and occupation of the Chornobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants.

From 29 to 31 March, the first IAEA mission headed by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi took place, during which they visited the Pivdennoukrainsk NPP, and from 25 to 28 April, the second IAEA mission to the Chornobyl NPP was provided. Upon the results of the missions, a report containing information on the safety and physical protection of nuclear facilities in Ukraine, as well as on activities related to the use of radiation sources was developed and published. The report contains information on the situation at ZNPP, in particular, incompliance with the integral components of nuclear safety and security regarding maintenance of the physical integrity for facilities, reliable functioning of communication channels with the regulatory body and other parties, tense and difficult working conditions for operational personnel, as well as providing all nuclear facilities with reliable external power supply from the power grid.

The IAEA Director General began to plan and make every effort to lead another expert mission in Ukraine, namely to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. To do this, he met with officials from Ukraine and russia. The third IAEA mission headed by him took place already on 1 September. Its members were representatives of Poland, Lithuania, Serbia, China, France and other countries, representatives of Britain, the USA and russia were not included. The russian invaders did their best to prevent experts from entering the ZNPP territory, so the previously agreed route of the IAEA mission was subjected to artillery shelling, and, despite their intensity, the experts arrived at ZNPP. During their stay at NPP, the mission confirmed the presence of russian military personnel, vehicles and equipment in various places of ZNPP, in particular, on the first floor of the turbine halls of Units No. 1 and 2, as well as under the overpass connecting the reactors. Most of the mission members headed by the IAEA Director General left the nuclear power plant on the same day, but the IAEA inspectors continued to work at the nuclear power plant. Following the visit to ZNPP, the second report was published. It describes the situation in Ukraine from 28 April to 5 September. Based on the mission results, IAEA recommended that the shelling of the nuclear power plant and its vicinity be immediately stopped for the safety of the operational personnel and to ensure ZNPP physical integrity and reliable operation.

IAEA Imagebank

Following the second IAEA mission to ZNPP, the Board of Governors including representatives of 35 UN member states, adopted a resolution demanding that russia stop all actions against and at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine. The document was proposed by Canada and Poland on behalf of Ukraine, which currently is not a member of the board of the IAEA highest decision-making body. 26 states voted approvingly, two – China and Russia – voted against, and another seven (Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India and Pakistan) abstained.

Statements about the deoccupation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, withdrawal of the russian military and rosatom representatives, formation of a safe, demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant were made not only by IAEA, but also by other international organizations. Thus, on 13 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution in which russia is recognized as a terrorist regime. By continuing the illegal occupation and militarization of ZNPP, the leadership of the russian federation increased threats of nuclear war, which are reckless, violate international law and are incompatible with the obligations of a nuclear state that has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. G7 also called on russia to return full control of ZNPP to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine, withdraw all russian personnel from the facility, and stop any reckless and dangerous attempts to place ZNPP under russian control, which could further increase the threat to its safety.

The activities of the IAEA permanent mission at ZNPP are underway on the basis of rotation for the fourth month. The constant IAEA presence contributes to monitoring the real situation at ZNPP and recording changes, conducting regular field observations at the main NPP facilities, maintaining a communication channel with the ZNPP site through the Agency and regularly discussing technical issues with representatives of the regulator and operator, ZNPP partners, defining priority needs to prevent an accident and providing relevant technical advice. It is important to note that IAEA experts do not replace Ukrainian experts, as well as the operator and regulator of Ukraine in the issues of safe and reliable ZNPP operation, at the same time, in war conditions, they provide communication for safety purposes and act in accordance with the terms of reference agreed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

On 10 November, the third report of the Director General for the IAEA Board of Governors was published, which describes the situation at ZNPP from 6 September to 9 November. During the reporting period, IAEA was informed on frequent shelling of ZNPP and in the vicinity of NPP, as well as the detonation of mines near the ZNPP site. As a result of shelling, the Ukrainian nuclear power plant lost external power four times, due to which diesel generators were launched to provide power. While landmine explosions did not directly affect the nuclear safety and security of the nuclear power plant, they already pose a risk to personnel and delay repair of damaged power lines. In this regard, the Director General once again expressed his deep concern that the situation is becoming more dangerous, threatening and complex, with a potential impact on nuclear safety and security, which confirms the urgent need to establish a nuclear safety zone around ZNPP. The Director General has repeatedly expressed concern that the ZNPP personnel are being subjected to unacceptable pressure, forced to make extremely difficult decisions for themselves and their families, and to work in more difficult conditions with potentially serious consequences for nuclear safety. In this regard, the Director General called for an end to the colossal pressure on Ukrainian operational personnel.

On 17 November, the IAEA Board of Governors, on the proposal of Canada and Finland, adopted the third resolution since the start of the war in Ukraine calling on russia to stop all activities at Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The document notes: “(the Board) expresses its grave concern that the russian federation has not heeded the Council’s calls to immediately cease all actions against and at nuclear facilities in Ukraine and requests that the russian federation do so immediately.” In addition, “(the Board) expresses its deep concern due to the unacceptable pressure and detentions of Ukrainian operational personnel at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, as well as repeated disruptions in external power supply due to shelling of the adjacent territory.” 24 countries of the IAEA Board of Governors voted for the resolution. Two states – China and Russia – voted against, seven – Kenya, Namibia, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Vietnam – abstained, and two more were absent during the voting.

Currently, the whole world continues to monitor the situation at ZNPP. The capture of a nuclear power plant, its transformation into a military base happened for the first time in the history of the nuclear industry. Blackmailing the world with a new nuclear disaster, as a result of which radiation contamination will spread not only across the territory of Ukraine, but also across other countries, russia wants to strengthen its defense and negotiation positions, without being able to achieve constantly changing military goals. That is why, in order to prevent a nuclear accident, to stop the nuclear terrorism of russians and torture of the ZNPP personnel, it is necessary to liberate the NPP territory and Enerhodar from russian military groups and bring the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant back under the control of Ukraine.

Uatom.org Editorial Board