Workers at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant were given what to do by the Russian military commander who seized the site last week, in violation of international safety protocols.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed “grave concern” about the situation at the Six Reactor Plant, the largest in Europe. The Ukrainian Nuclear Regulatory Authority told the agency that “any procedure for managing the plant – including procedures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units – requires the prior approval of the Russian commander”.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano GrossiOn Sunday, he said the Russian military leadership of the nuclear plant “contradicts one of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security” which states that the operating staff must be able to perform their safety and security duties and be able to make decisions. “Without undue pressure.”
Russian forces Zaporizhzhya factory was bombed In the early hours of Friday morning, damaging a driveway between two of the six reactors, and a fire broke out in a nearby building used for training. As a result, some reactors were shut down and others were put on low power.
The reactors themselves are well protected by a thick concrete shell, but there are concerns that the most vulnerable spent fuel rods could be hit, or that the power and cooling systems could be affected, potentially leading to a meltdown.
The IAEA also expressed concern that the Russian occupying forces had reportedly shut down mobile phone networks and Internet connectivity “so that reliable information from the site could not be obtained through normal communication channels”.
The agency said communications between the plant and the Ukrainian nuclear regulator had been affected, which the IAEA said conflicts with other pillars of nuclear safety listed by Grossi, which require “reliable communications with the regulator and others”.
“In order for the plant to be able to operate safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure,” Grossi said.
The deteriorating situation regarding vital contacts between the regulator and Zaporizhzhia [nuclear plant] It is also a source of deep concern, particularly during armed conflict which may endanger the country’s nuclear facilities at any time. “Reliable regulator and operator communication is an important part of overall nuclear safety and security.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency said operators at the plant were now able to rotate between three shifts, relieving operators who were on duty at the time of the takeover, but there were still “issues with the availability and supply of food” that the Ukrainian regulator said Affects factory morale.
The IAEA also expressed alarm over the loss of contacts with institutions and companies in the besieged port city of Mariupol where it said there were “category 1-3 sources of radiation, a possible reference to medical or industrial isotopes. A Category 1 source could yet be deadly.” exposure for more than a few minutes.
“Such radioactive materials can cause serious harm to people if they are not properly secured and managed,” the agency said in a statement.