IAEA concerned for safety of Ukraine's nuclear plants; calls for restrain

IAEA has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could threaten the safety and security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine amid an intensified Russian military offensive in capital Kyiv

kyiv, ukraine, russia

Russia-Ukraine crisis: A woman and her son look out from an evacuation train from Kyiv to Lviv at Kyiv central train station, Ukraine, February 25, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Press Trust of India Vienna
The UN's nuclear watchdog has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could threaten the safety and security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine amid an intensified Russian military offensive in its capital Kyiv and other areas.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Ukraine has four nuclear power sites with a total of 15 reactors, providing roughly half of the country's electricity.
Expressing grave concern over the situation in Ukraine, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on Saturday called on all parties to refrain from any measures or actions that could jeopardise the security of nuclear material, and the safe operation of all nuclear facilities, as any such incident could have severe consequences for human health and the environment.
He said that Ukraine on Saturday informed the agency that the country's nuclear power plants remained stable and in normal operation.
In a new update to the IAEA, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine(SNRIU) also said its staff maintained regular contacts with the plants, the statement said.
"The safety and security of nuclear sites and material in Ukraine must under no circumstances be endangered. For now, the plants are operating as normal and their nuclear material remains under control. It is of paramount importance that this continues to be the case and that plant staff remain able to carry out their vital work without any undue pressure or stress, he said.
Russian forces took over the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) on Thursday after a fierce battle with the Ukrainian battalion guarding the facility, where nuclear radiation is still leaking from the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
On Friday, the state regulator reported elevated radiation levels at the Chernobyl site, possibly caused by heavy military vehicles churning up contaminated soil, but the IAEA assessed that the radiation readings remained low and did not pose any danger to the public.
The state regulator on Saturday reported in an update that the site continued to operate normally. However, the regulator also said that the staff on duty had not changed since February 24, the statement said.
An explosion at the Chernobyl plant in 1986 is the worst nuclear disaster in history.
According to reports, more than 30 people died in the immediate aftermath of an explosion that tore through Chernobyl's No. 4 reactor on April 26, 1986, near Pripyat, Ukraine.
In the years that followed, countless others died from radiation symptoms, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organisation. The Ukraine government evacuated some 135,000 people from the area and the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant will remain uninhabitable for decades.
Grossi said the operations of the zone's nuclear facilities should not be affected or disrupted in any way and that staff must be able to work and rest as normal, reiterating that those in effective control of nuclear facilities should not take any actions that could compromise their safety.
SNRIU said that Rusian forces have destroyed an electrical transformer at a low-level radioactive waste disposal site near the north-eastern city of Kharkiv that had been damaged, but no release of radioactive material was reported.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 27 2022 | 1:27 PM IST

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