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IAEA: All units at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant should be in cold shutdown

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 5, 2023 4:46 AM 2 min read
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Olga Maltseva / AFP via Getty Images)
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To prevent safety risks, all units at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) should be brought into cold shutdown, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in their Oct. 4 report.

The occupying Russian authorities at the plant ordered the transition of reactor 4 from cold to hot shutdown in order to generate steam required for safety functions at the nuclear facility.

This is an ongoing practice at the ZNPP, despite the warnings of Ukraine's regulating bodies. The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) has ordered all six units of the plant to be placed in cold shutdown, and the IAEA has recommended the same.

"[T]he IAEA has been strongly encouraging the ZNPP to find an alternative source of steam generation to cover the plant’s needs, including for processing liquid radioactive waste, and allow for all the reactors to be maintained in a cold shutdown state," the IAEA's report read.

Energoatom, Ukraine's state nuclear energy company, said that non-compliance with these orders "increases the likelihood of a radiation accident."

IAEA experts also reported that Russian administrators at the plant continue to deny the agency full access to ZNPP facilities during their inspections.

Inspectors have asked for access to all six turbine halls in succession, but have only been allowed to visit one at a time. Additionally, the IAEA team has not been granted access to the rooftops of reactor units 1, 2, 5, or 6.

“We will insist until we get the access we need in order to monitor compliance with the five concrete principles for the protection of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” the agency's Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

Grossi also said the team had received armored vehicles and additional security personnel due to financial support from Japan. The IAEA has warned of increased military activity in the vicinity of the plant.

IAEA teams have been based at the Zaporizhzhia plant on rotation since September 2022, after Grossi's first visit to the occupied facility.

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In late June, 16 months into the full-scale Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky alerted his nation of an unprecedented threat. Russia, the president said, had rigged the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with explosives, and was ready to set off the charges and cause radiation to…

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