Conflict in the Ukraine – Q&A
Click here to view a joint statement issued by the nuclear industry in support of the IAEA’s efforts to ensure the safety and security of nuclear facilities and staff in Ukraine
The FORATOM team expresses its solidarity with the people in Ukraine, and in particular with all our colleagues in the nuclear sector, such as in Energoatom and the Ukranian Nuclear Forum. It has been an immense honour to work with our Ukrainian colleagues for so many years.
We strongly support the IAEA’s calls for an immediate halt in the use of force around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and for the health and wellbeing of its workers to be protected. We call on the EU institutions to fully support the IAEA’s Director General to travel to the region with the goal of ensuring that the 7 principles for ensuring security and safety at any nuclear facility are not compromised.
On 11 March 2022 Rafael Grossi (IAEA Director General) travelled to Turkey in order to meet with foreign ministers of both the Ukraine and Russia. The goal of this trip was to make progress on the urgent issue of ensuring the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.More information about the outcomes can be found in the following press conference.
At the end of March, Mr Grossi travelled to Ukraine for talks with senior government officials on the IAEA’s planned delivery of urgent technical assistance to ensure the safety and security of the country’s nuclear facilities and help avert the risk of an accident that could endanger people and the environment. More information on this can be found here.
The IAEA is currently planning a series of technical assistance missions in the coming weeks to reduce the risk of a nuclear accident during the conflict in Ukraine.
What are the seven principles put forward by the IAEA?
- The physical integrity of the facilities – whether it is the reactors, fuel ponds, or radioactive waste stores – must be maintained.
- All safety and security systems and equipment must be fully functional at all times.
- The operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure.
- There must be secure off-site power supply from the grid for all nuclear sites.
- There must be uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the sites.
- There must be effective on-site and off-site radiation monitoring systems and emergency preparedness and response measures.
- There must be reliable communications with the regulator and others.
What is the status at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)?
During the night of 3-4 March 2022, a projectile hit a training building in the vicinity of one of the plant’s reactor units, causing a localized fire. This fire was extinguished. In this respect, the IAEA confirms that the safety systems of the plant’s six reactors had not been affected and there has been no release of radioactive material. Furthermore, radiation monitoring systems at the site are fully functional.
Below is a summary of latest information available,
- Whilst the plant continues to be operated by regular staff, the plant management is now under orders from the commander of the Russian forces. As a result, any plant management measures, including technical operation, requires the approval of the Russian commander
- Regarding the workforce onsite, operational teams are now rotating in three shifts.
- Regarding power supplies, the site has four high voltage (750 kV) offsite power lines plus an additional one on standby. Two of the four have been damaged and therefore currently there are two power lines, plus the one on standby. According to the operator, the NPPs off-site power needs could be provided with just one power line. Furthermore, diesel generators are ready and functional to provide back-up power. More information can be found here
- The IAEA has confirmed that they have lost remote data transmission from its safeguards systems installed to monitor nuclear material at the NPP. It was noted, however, that technical features were in place to ensure that the data was stored locally. More information can be found here
- The site has 6 reactor units. Of these:
- Unit 1 is in planned maintenance until mid-2022
- Unit 2 now operates at full capacity
- Unit 3 is in a cold shutdown state
- Unit 4 is operating at near full capacity
- Unit 5 is cooling down for a cold reserve state
- Unit 6 is in cold shutdown.
What is the status at the Chornobyl site?
The Russian forces have now withdrawn from the site. Whilst increased radiation levels in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone have been reported by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of the Ukraine (SNRIU), these are the result of military activities in the area and most probably due to heavy military vehicles stirring up soil still contaminated from the 1986 accident, according to the IAEA. They are not the result of damage to the facilities on site.
The Chornobyl NPP, located in an Exclusion Zone, has been undergoing decommissioning since the accident and significant amounts of nuclear material remain in various facilities at the site in the form of spent fuel and other radioactive waste.
Further to its disconnection from the grid on 9 March 2022, on 13 March Ukrainian specialist teams succeeded in repairing a power line needed to resume external electricity supplies to the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant. In any event, both the IAEA and the Ukrainian regulator confirm that its disconnection from the grid would not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site, where various radioactive waste management facilities are located.
As in the case of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, the IAEA has confirmed that they have lost remote data transmission from its safeguards systems installed to monitor nuclear material at the NPP. It was noted, however, that technical features were in place to ensure that the data was stored locally. More information can be found here. The IAEA is currently preparing a mission to the site, and is in discussions with its Ukrainian counterparts on kind of safety-related equipment – including spare parts and components – are needed. Furthermore, the IAEA experts will conduct radiological assessments and repair remote safeguards monitoring equipment.
What is the status at the radioactive disposal site in Kiev?
On 27 February 2022, missiles hit the site of a radioactive waste disposal facility in the capital Kyiv, but there was no damage to the building and no reports of a radioactive release.
According to the IAEA this site does not contain high-level radioactive waste.
Nuclear power plants in the Ukraine – General information
There are currently 15 operational nuclear reactors in the Ukraine, located at four nuclear power plants (NPPs):
- Khmelnytskyi: Two reactors
- Rivne: Four reactors
- South Ukraine: Three reactors
- Zaporizhzhia: Six reactors
More information about NPPs in the Ukraine can be found in the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System (PRIS). For a general overview of nuclear facilities in Europe, please see FORATOM’s Interactive Map.
In order to ensure the safety of these NPPs, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has stressed that there are three main safety functions at the heart of nuclear safety: Containment, Control and Cooling. Hence his call that both sides respect the Seven Principles referred to above. Furthermore, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) has been put in full response mode due to developments. The IEC is being manned around the clock to continuously receive, assess and disseminate information about developments.