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Evaluating the situation at ZNPP is challenging, given that it is the first time military operations have occurred in close proximity to the plant — Plachkov

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Estimated Reading Time: 2 min

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi held a briefing in Kyiv on January 6, highlighting concerns about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). He emphasized that the nuclear fuel in the reactors at ZNPP is nearing the end of its service life, and there is a significant shortage of staff.

Hryhorii Plachkov, former head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate, shared his insights on Hromadske Radio regarding the situation at Zaporizhzhya NPP.

He pointed out the challenges at ZNPP since the beginning of its occupation, emphasizing the risks associated with military presence at a nuclear power plant. Plachkov agreed with Grossi’s observation that there’s a shortage of workers at ZNPP, with up to 50% of licensed personnel no longer present. The degradation of main equipment raises concerns about the quality of repairs and maintenance. Plachkov noted the absence of management or regulatory control and the lack of information from Russia about the condition of the fuel.

Plachkov noted that the war raised unprecedented challenges. It’s the first time in history that a country has seized another state’s nuclear power plant. He emphasized the complexities of dealing with nuclear fuel reaching the end of its lifespan, especially with cores using both Russian and US-made fuel.

Explaining the lifetime of nuclear fuel as three to four years, Plachkov highlighted the difficulty in assessing the situation due to varying periods of use in different reactors. The ZNPP’s power units are in a state of cold shutdown, but there have been orders to change some units to a hot shutdown, involving shipping fuel to on-site storage facilities.

The occupied ZNPP poses multiple threats, including concerns about cooling reactor cores, the presence of military equipment, and the challenging psychological state of the personnel. Plachkov also questioned the lack of sanctions on Rosatom, the Russian company involved, and the continued presence of Russia in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Plachkov commended the IAEA as the only source of information on the ZNPP’s state, serving as a deterrent against unintended events. However, he questioned the absence of sanctions on Rosatom and Russia’s continued participation in the IAEA.

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