IAEA's Grossi heading to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

27 March 2023

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is to make his second visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant since the Russia-Ukraine war began. The six-unit plant is on the frontline of the conflict and Grossi has spent months seeking to get agreement on a safety and security zone around it.

The IAEA team on their way to Zaporizhzhia (Image: @rafaelmgrossi/Twitter)

Grossi said he had decided to travel to the plant again "to see for myself how the situation has evolved since September (his previous visit) and to talk to those operating the facility in these unprecedented and very difficult circumstances. I remain determined to continue doing everything in my power to help reduce the risk of a nuclear accident during the tragic war in Ukraine".

His visit in September marked the start of the permanent stationing of an IAEA team of experts at the plant. On his visit this week, which involves crossing the frontline of the conflict, he will be accompanied by IAEA colleagues as they rotate - for a seventh time - the team at the plant.

Grossi said: "Despite our presence at the site for seven months now, the situation ... is still precarious. The nuclear safety and security dangers are all too obvious, as is the necessity to act now to prevent an accident with potential radiological consequences to the health and the environment for people in Ukraine and beyond. I’m therefore continuing to work on a proposal to protect the plant."

Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the director general of Russia’s Rosenergoatom nuclear power engineering company, told Tass on Sunday that Grossi was expected at the Zaporizhzhia plant on Wednesday "leading an IAEA delegation of 18 ... concurrently, the IAEA inspectors will be rotated".

Grossi tweeted on Monday: "On my way to #Zaporizhzhya NPP to assess first-hand the #nuclear safety & security situation at the facility. I will continue my efforts to protect the nuclear plant during the ongoing military conflict, & lead our next regular rotation of @iaeaorg experts to & from the site."

Later on Monday he tweeted a photograph after meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is about 60 kilometres from the nuclear power plant.

The IAEA director general met Ukraine's president ahead of visiting the nuclear plant (Image: @rafaelmgrossi/Twitter)

Grossi said the two men "had a rich exchange on the protection of" the nuclear power plant and its staff. "I reiterated the full support of the @IAEAorg to #Ukraine’s nuclear facilities."

Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Europe, and has been under Russian military control since early March 2022. It has suffered some shelling during the conflict, with each side blaming the other, and has had to rely on backup diesel generators for essential safety functions on a number of occasions when external power to the site was lost.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News