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UN Security Council: IAEA Grossi Calls for Establishment of Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone at Zaporizhzhya NPP

International Atomic Energy Agency

Estelle Marais, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication
Michael Amdi Madsen, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication

7 Sep 2022

The establishment of a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Ukraine is urgently needed to ensure that the physical integrity of the plant is not compromised, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the UN Security Council yesterday. Zaporizhzya NPP has been controlled by Russian forces since March but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.

In a session discussing threats to international peace and security, Mr Grossi outlined findings and recommendations from the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ), released on Tuesday in its Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine: 2nd Summary Report.

Stressing the need for a protection zone, including an end to the shelling around the plant, he explained that the first important safety pillar that exists in any nuclear facility is not to violate its physical integrity. Mr Grossi said that unfortunately "this has happened and this continues to happen," adding that "we are playing with fire and something very catastrophic could take place."

Mr Grossi told the Security Council that the IAEA through ISAMZ now has a continuous presence at Zaporizhzya NPP, with personnel on the ground at the plant providing first-hand neutral, impartial and technical information on the site's status. Pointing out the value of the Agency's continued presence at the plant, he said this provided the IAEA, and through it, the United Nations and the international community with the capacity to have a direct, immediate evaluation of the situation on the ground as it may happen.

"This fact is unprecedented," Mr Grossi said, stating that historically IAEA inspectors became involved after the facts in order to remediate something that had already happened. "We in this case have the historical, ethical imperative to prevent something from happening," he said.

"We can agree on a very simple, but incredibly necessary protective mechanism to avoid what is happening now, as we speak, which is the shelling of a nuclear power plant. Let's seize this opportunity so fundamental for peace, for security and to protect the populations of Ukraine and beyond," he added.

Recommendations for re-establishing the pillars of nuclear safety and security

Mr Grossi stressed that the seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security at Zaporizhzhya NPP must be maintained and detailed the IAEA's recommendations to address violations of these pillars.

Mr Grossi explained how ISAMZ had observed that operators at the plant were performing important safety and security tasks under extremely challenging circumstances, with military equipment and vehicles present on the site. With the second pillar stating that all safety and security systems and equipment should be fully functional, he recommended that the military vehicles and equipment on the site be removed so as not to interfere with normal operation of the nuclear safety and security systems.

Under the third pillar, which requires operating staff to be able to fulfil their safety and security duties without undue pressures, Mr Grossi said that this is something that has been addressed time and again during this crisis and especially since the nuclear power plant was occupied last March. He recommended that the operator should be allowed to return to its clear and routine lines of responsibilities and authorities, and that an appropriate work environment be re-established, including with proper family support for the staff.

Mr Grossi stressed the crucial importance of pillar four, which states that there must be secure off-site power supply from the grid, stating that: "A nuclear power plant without external power supply may lose crucial functionalities including the cooling of the reactors and the spent fuel. Without this we could have a very serious nuclear accident." He recommended that off-site power supply line redundancy be re-established and available at any time, and said that for this to be possible, "all military activities that may affect the power supply systems must be stopped immediately."

Referring to the fifth pillar, which requires uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the sites, Mr Grossi explained that the Zaporizhzhya NPP is "a large industrial site requiring a constant flow of spare parts and other equipment — a situation that is of course abnormally interrupted now." He recommended that all the parties should commit and contribute to ensuring effective supply chains, highlighting that IAEA assistance and support programmes can help in re-establishing a flow of supplies.

Pillar six refers to the functioning of radiation monitoring systems, and Mr Grossi recommended that the site should continue ensuring this functionality, including by trainings and exercises, which he said the IAEA can help in ensuring.

Finally, Mr Grossi highlighted that pillar seven states that there must be continued and reliable communications with the regulator and with others. "We have seen repeatedly that these lines of communication have been interrupted," he said. He recommended that reliable and redundant communication means and channels be secured at all times.

Mr Grossi thanked the United Nations Secretary General for his support in the ISAMZ mission to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.


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