The Ukrainian State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRIU) has expressed growing concern over the situation in Chernobyl and Zaporozhe, where Ukrainian nuclear power plant personnel work at sites under the control of Russian forces.
In its 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) update on March 8, the SNRIU said 8 of the country’s 15 reactors were operating safely, but it said that after a fourth day under the control of Russian forces, personnel from Zaporozhe were facing “psychological pressure” and “interference in their work” which could have “a negative impact” on security.
He said the site’s website remains down, but mobile communication is improving in the area. There are still problems with “food supply to stores”. Two of the site’s six generators continue to operate and are connected to the grid.
The SNRIU also provided an update on the situation in Chernobyl, which has been under the control of Russian forces for 13 days. He indicated that he was unable to carry out his regulatory control of the site and that the operation of the automated radiation monitoring system had not yet been restored.
But “according to information received from Chernobyl personnel … the safety parameters of the facilities are still within standard limits”.
He said there was no landline or mobile phone communication with staff at the site, and that road and rail travel to the site also needs to be restored.
He added that “scheduled activities, maintenance and repair of systems and equipment” and any work involving offsite contractors had not been carried out since February 24. This meant that some sensors had not been restored, which complicates the safe operation of the site, he added.
In a statement released at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, SNRIU Acting Chairman Oleh Korikov said that despite Ukraine’s efforts “no diplomatic efforts by the IAEA and other international partners have achieved real results in reducing or eliminating military risks at Ukrainian nuclear facilities”. .
He said the risks were not only in Chernobyl and Zaporozhe, but also said that in the city of Kharkov its oncology center was destroyed and a nuclear research facility was damaged.
He said: “The military seizure of nuclear facilities, as well as military actions against other nuclear facilities and facilities using radiation sources…create risks unprecedented in their magnitude.”
Meanwhile, CERN – the European Council for Nuclear Research – said it had suspended Russia’s observer status and “will not engage in further collaborations with the Russian Federation and its institutions until ‘on further order’.
He added: “CERN was created in the aftermath of World War II to bring nations and peoples together in the peaceful pursuit of science: this aggression goes against everything the organization stands for.”
In its latest update on the situation, on the evening of March 7, the International Atomic Energy Agency reaffirmed its willingness to hold talks with the two parties to reach an agreement on measures covering the security and protection nuclear sites in Ukraine.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “We have already had several episodes compromising security at Ukrainian nuclear sites. We must take action to help avoid a nuclear accident in Ukraine which could have serious consequences for public health and the environment. We cannot afford to wait. I said that I am ready to go to Chernobyl, but it can be anywhere, as long as it facilitates this necessary and urgent action.