The management of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has come under orders from the commander of the Russian forces that took control of the site last week, Ukraine informed the UN’s atomic watchdog.
Russian forces at the site have also switched off some communication networks, including mobile and the internet, the Ukrainian regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency. The two moves contravene two of the seven pillars of nuclear safety, the IAEA said in a statement on Sunday.
“I’m extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s director-general.
“Just a few days after I presented the seven main elements of nuclear safety and security to the IAEA board, several of them are already being compromised,” he added.
“In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure.”
Ukraine informed the IAEA on Sunday that management of the plant, including measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units, needed approval from the Russian commander, the agency said in a statement.
Grossi said that contravened the pillar of nuclear safety and security that states that the operating staff “must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure”.
Ukraine also reported that the Russian forces at the site, the largest of four active nuclear plants in the country, were blocking reliable information from the site through the normal channels of communication.
Ukraine’s nuclear regulator confirmed to the IAEA that it had had “major problems” in communicating with staff operating the Zaporizhzhya plant. The Ukrainian watchdog said the phone lines, emails and fax were no longer working. Mobile phone communication was possible but of poor quality.
The IAEA said that contravened another pillar that demands reliable communication with the regulator and others.
Grossi added that Ukraine had informed him that regular staff continued to operate the nuclear plant. The regulator confirmed that radiation levels remained normal.