20:05 01.04.2022

IAEA head calls return of control over Chornobyl NPP to Ukraine 'step in right direction'

3 min read
IAEA head calls return of control over Chornobyl NPP to Ukraine 'step in right direction'

The presence of specialists from the International Nuclear Energy Agency (IAEA) at Ukraine's nuclear facilities is very important, and they will arrive there in the very near future, primarily at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, Director General of the agency Rafael Mariano Grossi HAS said.

"We see this as a step in the right direction. We are going to be there very soon, because in Chernobyl there is a lot of work to be done," he said at a press conference in Vienna on Friday, following visits to Ukraine and Russia March 29 through March 31.

According to him, at this facility, due to power outages or physical damage, there could be a lot of things that could be turned off or fail. At the same time, during the occupation, remote monitoring of radiation indicators did not work.

Ukrainian specialists know how to do their job. But this does not mean that international assistance and cooperation will be superfluous, Grossi said.

According to him, the experience of operating nuclear power plants in the conditions of hostilities has shown that assessing the situation on the spot is much more reliable and efficient than using information from other sources.

In addition, the head of the agency added, it is necessary to check the safety of nuclear material. There are some things that can only be done by IAEA experts, Grossi added.

According to him, he does not know for what reason the Russian troops left the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. They did not tell him about why they left. He said that this could be the decision of the military authorities. And this is not what we discussed with the Russian side in Kaliningrad after a visit to Ukraine, the head of the IAEA said.

He called the general radiation situation around the Chornobyl nuclear power plant quite normal, while allowing some increase in radiation indicators during the withdrawal of troops, which was also observed during their entry to the plant site.

There was a relatively elevated level of localized radiation due to the movement of heavy vehicles during the occupation of the station. And, apparently, this could take place again at the exit, Grossi said.

He confirmed that he had heard about the possibility of radiation contamination of some of the Russian military, but noted that he had no evidence of this.

As for the provision of assistance to Ukraine, according to Grossi, due to hostilities, it may be complicated. However, the IAEA will try to provide it, he said.

In the case of Chornobyl, it is one thing, and in the case of the other plants, it is about the distance and the military situation. One of them remains under the control of the Russian forces. So this will undoubtedly require a different approach, but nothing makes Grossi think that this impossible to do, the head of the IAEA said.

He did not specify what kind of assistance could be discussed, referring to ongoing negotiations with the Ukrainian side on this issue, and asked journalists to be patient.

Commenting on the progress of his initiative on the necessary steps to reduce risks at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, Grossi said that he had abandoned the idea of a trilateral plan in favor of working on a bilateral basis.