IAEA support teams sent to bolster Ukrainian power plants

January 18, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Rivne nuclear power plant in western Ukraine, home to four VVER pressurized water reactors. (Photo: Victor Korniyenko/Wikipedia)

In what it is calling a “major expansion” of its efforts to prevent a severe nuclear accident befalling Ukraine, the International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday announced that it is deploying teams of nuclear security and safety experts this week to the beleaguered nation’s nuclear power plants and the Chernobyl site. (The agency has already stationed a team of experts at Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility, the six-unit Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been under Russian military occupation since last March.)

Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi on Tuesday launched the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Rivne as part of a flag-raising ceremony at the four-unit nuclear facility in western Ukraine, one day after deploying a similar team at the three-unit South Ukraine plant. While at South Ukraine, Grossi also held discussions with Herman Halushchenko, the country’s energy minister; Petro Kotin, president of nuclear operator Energoatom; and Oleh Korikov, head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine.

According to the announcement, today Grossi was expected to inaugurate the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Chernobyl. And within the next few days, an expert mission is to be deployed at the two-unit Khmelnytskyi plant, located about 90 miles southeast of Rivne.

Encouraging words: “With our experts’ presence at Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities and at the Chernobyl site, we are intensifying and deepening our technical activities to help prevent a nuclear accident during the terrible and tragic war in Ukraine,” Grossi said after the hoisting of the IAEA flag at Rivne. “These new missions—launched at the request of the government of Ukraine—will make a very real difference through supporting the Ukrainian operators and regulator in fulfilling their national responsibility of ensuring nuclear safety and security during these immensely difficult times for Ukraine. The experts will monitor key nuclear safety and security systems, provide technical assistance, assess the plants’ needs, and report to our headquarters.”

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