Cooling system at Zaporizhzhya stabilised – but attacks in the area continue

19 September 2023

In its Update 183 on the Ukraine situation International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi announced that Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant has been drilling more wells at the site as part of efforts to find new sources of cooling water following the destruction of the downstream Kakhovka dam more than three months ago.

ZNPP has built another two groundwater wells to supply the sprinkler ponds that cool the six reactors and spent fuel, bringing the total of new wells to nine.

Together they pump around 200 cubic metres of water per hour into the sprinkler ponds, representing most of the cooling needs of the six shutdown reactors. The remainder of the water comes from the drainage system and clean water that is periodically discharged from the plant’s chemical water treatment facility. The IAEA has been informed that the water supply situation will be assessed after a tenth well has been constructed to see if more will be needed.

“Following the loss of the Kakhovka reservoir, actions have been taken to stabilise the site’s water resources, which are currently sufficient for several months of its cooling requirements in the current conditions,” director general Grossi said. “However, the challenges the site has been facing in this regard are further adding to the generally precarious nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, especially as our experts are reporting about further indications of increased military activities in the region”.

IAEA experts on the ground have continued to hear numerous explosions some distance away from the ZNPP, which is located near the frontline. They were also informed by the ZNPP about further drone attacks, on 11 September, in the nearby city of Enerhodar where many staff live with their families, causing minor damage to two buildings. The ZNPP informed the IAEA that there were no casualties reported at that time.

At the ZNPP, the IAEA experts have continued to conduct walkdowns of specific areas at the site and meet with staff there. They have not observed the presence of any new mines or explosives but confirmed the continued presence of mines in the buffer zone between the site’s internal and external perimeter barriers. The IAEA continues to request access to the rooftops of reactor units 1, 2, 5 and 6, and to all six turbine halls, one after the other.

Over the past week, the experts visited the isolation gate at the large cooling pond and confirmed the integrity of the gate and observed the reinforcements that had been made on the side of the Kakhovka reservoir following the dam’s collapse in early June.

The IAEA team also went to the main control room of unit 4, the reactor hall of unit 3, the turbine hall of unit 2 and a liquid waste treatment facility.

The six reactor units remain in shutdown, with units 1 to 5 in cold shutdown and unit 6 in hot shutdown to generate steam for various nuclear safety functions.

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