The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in its Ukraine Update 172 on 7 July that IAEA experts have been granted additional access to the site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP), without – so far – observing any visible indications of mines or explosives.

IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said that IAEA experts – who in recent days and weeks have inspected parts of the facility and continued to conduct regular walkdowns across the site – were also able to check a wider section of the perimeter of the ZNPP’s large cooling pond than was previously possible.

As part of this, they visited the isolation gate separating the cooling pond from what remains of the Kakhovka reservoir after the destruction of the downstream dam a month ago. The gate has been reinforced with counterweights and sand and there appeared to be no leakage of water from the pond. The experts also went to the gate separating the discharge channel of the nearby Zaporizhzhya thermal power plant (ZTPP) from the reservoir. Both this channel and the pond hold crucial reserves of water for the ZNPP’s cooling needs.

DG Grossi commented: “Following our requests, our experts have gained some additional access at the site. So far, they have not seen any mines or explosives. But they still need more access, including to the rooftops of reactor units 3 and 4 and parts of the turbine halls. I remain hopeful that this access will be granted soon. I will continue to report about developments in this regard”.

The IAEA is aware of reports that mines and other explosives have been placed in and around the ZNPP, currently located on the frontline of the military conflict in Ukraine. The director general reiterated the importance of the IAEA team’s being able to check all parts of the ZNPP to monitor full compliance with the five basic principles for protecting Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, whose six reactors remain in shutdown.

The five basic principles for the protection of the ZNPP that director general Grossi established on 30 May at the United Nations Security Council state that there should be no attack from or against the plant and that it should not be used as storage or a base for heavy weapons – multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions, and tanks.