ZNPP risks diminish, but not military tensions

26 September 2023

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP) has completed the drilling of ten groundwater wells, bringing the plant close to having a longer-term solution for the provision of cooling water to the shutdown reactors after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in June, director general Rafael Grossi said on 22 September during the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Update 184.

Over 200 cubic metres of water per hour can now be supplied to the sprinkler ponds that cool the ZNPP’s six reactors and spent fuel. The IAEA has been informed that the site intends to drill an additional well, bringing the total to 11 wells which it is hoped will provide the approximately 250 cubic metres per hour of water to maintain the cooling of the reactors and spent fuel pools in the current shutdown state. The ZNPP cooling pond remains intact, containing a large volume of water that can also provide cooling to the ZNPP’s shutdown reactors for many months.

IAEA experts continued to conduct walkdowns of the ZNPP this week. The team visited the main control rooms of units 2, 5 and 6 where they observed that units 2 and 5 remain in cold shutdown and unit 6 in hot shutdown. In addition, the team visited the emergency diesel generators for units 4 and 5 and performed walkdowns within the perimeter of the ZNPP. The team did not observe any heavy weapons during their walkdowns but confirmed that the previously reported mines remain in place.

The team continues to confirm that radiation levels at the ZNPP remain normal after performing monitoring using the IAEA mobile backpack system. The monitoring results are published on the IAEA’s International Radiation Monitoring Information System (IRMIS). 

There has been no change to the status of off-site power to the ZNPP, with the site receiving electricity from the last remaining of four original 750 kV lines and from one of the six original 330 kV lines connected to the Ukraine electricity grid. The IAEA team was given no information about the possible restoration of other high voltage lines.

During the week of 18 September, IAEA teams at Ukraine’s other NPPs and the Chornobyl site reported safe and secure operation of the nuclear facilities despite the continuation of the armed conflict. In the same week, the Agency arranged two deliveries of equipment to Ukraine, bringing the total number of deliveries to 24 since the start of the armed conflict. With these deliveries, Khmelnytskyy, Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs received various items such as IT equipment, medical equipment and supplies as well as laboratory equipment and nuclear security related systems. The deliveries were funded by extra-budgetary contributions from Canada and Japan. 

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