International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Mariano Grossi has arrived in Ukraine to negotiate the provision of urgent technical assistance from the agency to ensure the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and prevent the risk of accidents, the IAEA said on March 29.
“The military conflict is putting Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and other facilities with radioactive materials in unprecedented danger," Grossi said, according to an IAEA statement.
"We must take urgent action to make sure (the plants) can continue to operate safely and securely and reduce the risk of a nuclear accident, which could have a severe health and environmental impact both in Ukraine and beyond.”
The IAEA intends to provide prompt security support for Ukraine's nuclear facilities, which will include sending IAEA experts to prioritized facilities and the shipment of vital nuclear safety and security supplies, including monitoring and emergency equipment.
During the visit, which will last several days, Grossi will travel to one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
“Ukraine has requested our assistance to ensure security," Grossi said.
"We will now start delivering it. Ukraine has one of Europe’s largest nuclear power programs. The IAEA’s presence, where needed to ensure security, is of paramount importance. We are ready to provide the necessary support now.”
The IAEA said that it has developed concrete and detailed plans for security assistance to Ukraine's nuclear facilities, which include 15 nuclear power reactors at four plants, as well as the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where radioactive waste management facilities were located following the 1986 accident.
The International Atomic Energy Agency noted that in recent weeks, some of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety, including the physical integrity of facilities, the ability of operating staff to work free from undue pressure, and access to an external power line, have been seriously compromised.
“There have already been several signals," Grossi said. "We can't afford to lose any more time. This is already causing unimaginable human suffering and destruction. The IAEA’s expertise and capabilities are needed to prevent a nuclear accident."
Grossi is expected to hold a press conference upon his return to Vienna at the end of this week (March 28-April 3).
The Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant was captured by invading Russian troops on Feb. 24, while Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was seized by the enemy on March 4.