Ukraine has received a large batch of crucial radiation protection and monitoring equipment offered by Australia and France and delivered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the IAEA’s Update 86 on 14 July.
The DG commented that the shipment of personal protective equipment, radiation dosimeters and radiation and contamination monitors marked a milestone in IAEA-led efforts to ensure nuclear safety and security during the current military conflict in Ukraine, which has four operational nuclear power plants (NPPs) with 15 reactors, as well as many other radiation-related facilities.
“This is a major step forward in our joint work to help Ukraine reduce the risk of a nuclear accident or a radiological emergency. I’m very grateful for the generous support provided by Australia and France, as well as by many other countries that have also offered to assist,” he said. “Despite significant logistical and other hurdles, the equipment has now arrived in Ukraine where it will be put to good use by our Ukrainian counterparts.”
The IAEA has also previously assisted Ukraine with equipment during three safety, security and safeguards missions to the country in recent months. But this was the first shipment organised through the IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET), where countries can register their capabilities for support in areas ranging from radiation dose assessments and decontamination to nuclear installation assessment and advice, radioactive source search and recovery, and much else.
The latest shipment consisted of more than 160 dosimeters and monitors as well as hundreds of items of personal protective equipment, including full body suits, masks and disposable gloves and covers.
“More safety and security-related equipment will be transported to Ukraine in the coming months, thanks to substantial support from countries offering equipment and others providing extra-budgetary contributions for our assistance. The needs are large, and I encourage other countries to also step forward with support for our crucial work in Ukraine,” director general Grossi said.
“Together with Ukraine, we have made significant progress in identifying and beginning to address what is needed for the highest possible level of safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities”.
Director general Grossi again stressed the importance of the IAEA being able to travel to the Zaporizhzya NPP (ZNPP) to conduct essential safety, security and safeguards activities at Ukraine’s largest NPP. The IAEA has not been able to visit the ZNPP since before the current military conflict in Ukraine. Russian forces took control of the plant more than four months ago, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate it.
In official communications during the last week, Ukraine informed the IAEA about the “extremely difficult” situation at the ZNPP “due to constant pressure” on its employees.
Director General Grossi reiterated his growing concern about the severe and challenging conditions facing staff at the ZNPP and the impact of such conditions on the safety and security of the plant, saying this further underlined the need for the IAEA to go there as soon as possible.
In relation to safeguards, the IAEA is continuing to receive remote safeguards data from the four operational NPPs, but it is still experiencing a partial loss of safeguards data transfer from Chornobyl, he said.
Ukraine has informed the IAEA that nine of the country’s 15 nuclear energy reactors are currently connected to the grid, including three at the ZNPP, two at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and two at the Khmelnytskyy NPP.