IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed concern on Friday over reports of artillery fire near Enerhodar, the town housing most of the ZNPP’s staff. While the plant itself remains unaffected, Grossi emphasized the persistent risks to nuclear safety and security in the region due to the ongoing conflict.
Having already endured shelling in the past, the ZNPP’s protection is a top priority for Grossi. He is actively engaged in negotiations with all parties involved to ensure the plant’s safety and prevent the possibility of a severe nuclear accident.
The occupation of the ZNPP by Russian forces following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a significant decrease in staff numbers. The remaining personnel, along with their families, face challenging conditions in the frontline region.
Recent evacuations and reduced staffing levels have added to the uncertainties surrounding the ZNPP. Although there has been a slight increase in personnel at the plant this week, it is still far below the pre-conflict workforce size. The situation is deemed “unsustainable” by Grossi, as the reduced staffing poses serious risks to nuclear safety and security.
The ZNPP relies on external electricity for crucial functions like reactor cooling, with the only remaining functioning power line being a 750-kilovolt line. Before the conflict, four such lines were available, but the last remaining backup line, a 330-kilovolt powerline, was damaged in March and remains unrepaired.
The IAEA team onsite is actively seeking access to the nearby Zaporizhzhya Thermal Power Plant (ZTPP) following assurances from Russia’s state nuclear company, Rosatom. The ZTPP’s functioning switchyard can provide backup power to the nuclear power plant.
The IAEA continues to stress the importance of protecting the ZNPP during the conflict, urging all parties involved to refrain from targeting the plant and to reach an agreement on principles to safeguard its operations. The risks associated with reduced staffing and damaged powerlines underline the urgent need for coordinated efforts to maintain nuclear safety and security in the region.