March 10, 2022
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, held talks in Turkey with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister and the Russian Foreign Minister and said “we are making progress on the safety and safety of nuclear facilities in Ukraine”.
Sergei Lavrov of Russia (centre, left) and Grossi of the IAEA (centre, right) during their meeting (Image: @rafaelmgrossi/Twitter)
The managing director flew to Antalya in Turkey on Thursday morning at the invitation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. He had separate talks with Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
After the meetings, Grossi posted photos of the talks, giving an upbeat update: “Constructive and important meeting with Sergei Lavrov in Antalya, Turkey, this afternoon. We are making progress on the safety and security of nuclear facilities by Ukraine.”
“Important and forward-looking conversations with Dmytro Kuleba today in Antalya, Turkey. Progress is being made on the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.”
Although no details were given on the talks, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba said: “I met with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in Antalya to discuss ways to ensure the safety and the security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. I insist: Russia must immediately withdraw forces from the Chernobyl and Zaporozhe nuclear power plants to avoid a catastrophe in Europe.”
The Russian side also posted a photo after the meetings, stating: “Today in Antalya, Turkey, Sergey Lavrov and IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi discussed issues of nuclear safety, security and operating the facilities as part of a special military operation in Ukraine.”
The time for the trip has come as Chernobyl relies on backup generators after the region’s main power lines were knocked offline by fighting and two high-voltage power lines from the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant were knocked out damaged, leaving two power lines and a spare line available to the plant.
In Zaporozhe, where two of the six generators are currently operating, the IAEA said it was told that the necessary offsite electricity needs could be met with just one available power line, while the diesel generators were “ready and functional to ensure the return”. grow in power”.
“Nevertheless, this is another example of where the ‘safety pillar’ of secure offsite power supply from the grid for all nuclear sites has been compromised,” Grossi said in the update. 9 March IAEA Day.
Prior to the meetings, he also expressed deep concern about the energy situation at Chernobyl and the fact that automated remote data monitoring transmissions were also lost at the site, although the reason for this event was not immediately clear. .
“The remote transmission of data from IAEA safeguards equipment located at nuclear sites around the world is an important part of our safeguards implementation, in Ukraine and around the world,” he said. “Such systems are installed at several facilities in Ukraine, including all nuclear power plants, and allow us to monitor nuclear materials and activities at these sites when our inspectors are not present.”
The IAEA statement said the lack of electricity was likely to cause further deterioration in operational radiation safety at the site and add “additional stress” for technical experts and guards who did not have unable to leave the site for the next two weeks. Russian forces have taken control of the site.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) and the IAEA had agreed that the disconnection from the network “would not have a critical impact on the essential safety functions at the site (Chernobyl) where various radioactive waste management facilities”.
“In particular, with regard to the site’s spent fuel storage facility, the volume of cooling water in the pool is sufficient to maintain efficient evacuation of the heat from the spent fuel without the addition of electricity. The site also has emergency power supplies with diesel generators and batteries,” the IAEA said.
Meanwhile, on March 10, Interfax reported that Russian Deputy Energy Minister Yevgeny Grabchak told reporters that Belarus supplies electricity to the Chernobyl site through the Mazyr-Chernobyl NPP power transmission line. This development has not been confirmed by the SNRIU.
Earlier Thursday, in an interview with Ukraine Ekonomichna Pravda CEO of Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear power plant operator Petro Kotin said Chernobyl’s emergency generators were working and providing stable cooling of spent nuclear fuel. He estimated that, if there was no electricity at all for cooling, it could take around seven days to reach critical temperatures, but pointed out that generators were running at the moment, so it was not not a current threat.
Workers from transmission system operator Ukrenergo were ready to repair and restore power, he added, but agreement was needed on a safe “corridor” for them to carry out the work.
He said that Chernobyl was treated like a military base and that for personnel “aAll questions, even technical ones, must be agreed with the military commander of the Russian Federation. He is now the “head atomist” there, who says “yes” or “no”. It is a very threatening situation, especially for the psychological state of the staff. These personnel are on the control panels, they directly control the reactors. Employees should focus on the job, not the people with machine guns nearby.”
In its 08:00 (0600 GMT) update on Thursday, March 10, the SNRIU said eight of the country’s 15 nuclear power plants continued to operate within “safe operating limits” and the radioactive situation “meets established standards”. .
The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) has backed the IAEA Director General’s mission to Turkey, saying “there can be no interference of any kind with the capability of Ukrainian member operators to do their job safely.”
His concerns included: staff not resting properly; difficulties in supplying power plants; risks to power supplies and availability of fuel supplies for long-term use of emergency diesel generators; external pressures compromising decision-making and disrupting communication with the regulator and supporting organizations like the IAEA and WANO.
WANO said it supports “the immediate establishment of a nuclear safety framework at all nuclear facilities in Ukraine that ensures that the seven pillars of nuclear safety and security are achieved and maintained.”
Research and writing by World Nuclear News