International Atomic Energy Agency experts have assessed the damage caused by powerful explosions near Ukraine’s Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant (KhNPP), observing 26 broken windows but reporting no impact on nuclear safety and security at the site, director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in an Update issued on 27 October.

The IAEA team KhNPP has conducted a thorough walkdown at the site after blast waves early on 25 October shattered windows in several of its buildings and briefly cut external power to two off-site radiation monitoring stations. Ukraine said it had shot down two drones 5 km and 20 km respectively from the plant.

The KhNPP is now installing thin metal sheets to replace the damaged windows until permanent replacements can be procured. One reactor is continuing to operate, while the second unit remains in planned outage since early August.

Alert at Kursk

Separately, the IAEA is aware of Russian reports of three drones identified in an area near the Kursk nuclear power plant (KuNPP) in the south of the Russian Federation, one of which exploded causing minor damage to the façade of the building where spent nuclear fuel is stored. It is reported there were no casualties and the radiation levels at the KuNPP site do not exceed the established norms.

“This week’s events show that nuclear safety and security remains potentially precarious, not only at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. The IAEA will remain present at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to monitor and inform the world about developments. We will continue to do everything in our power to help prevent a nuclear accident during the military conflict,” director general Grossi said.

Continuing scrutiny of Ukraine NPPs

The IAEA’s experts are continuing to report on conditions at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant with walkdowns across the site, visiting its cooling pond, isolation gates, cooling towers, and its outlet channel, as well as the outlet channel of the nearby Zaporizhzhya thermal power plant (ZTPP). No mines or explosives were observed.

The team has also continued to request access to the rooftops of reactor units 1, 5 and 6, after in recent months being able to go to those areas of the ZNPP’s three other units.

The IAEA experts also need access to all six turbine halls together. However, they were only granted partial access to the turbine hall of reactor unit 1 on 23 October, five days after they received similarly restrictive access to the turbine hall of unit 4.

Maintenance activities are continuing to be performed on the safety systems of unit 6 after it was moved to cold shutdown earlier this month. Of the other reactors, units 4 and 5 are in hot shutdown to generate steam for nuclear safety related functions and heating for the nearby town of Enerhodar, while the remaining three continue to be in cold shutdown.

The IAEA teams at Ukraine’s two other NPPs – the Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs – and the Chornobyl site report safe and secure operations of these nuclear facilities despite the continuation of the conflict.