International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi claimed that he managed to collect important information during the organization’s short initial trip to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on Sept. 1.
In an interview with Radio NV on Sept. 2, the head of the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom, Petro Kotin, echoes that, quoting Grossi as saying, “The key things I needed to see I saw, the explanations were very clear.”
Talking to Radio NV, Kotin explained what he thought Gossi meant by that, and also predicted what conclusions can be expected after the IAEA’s visit to the ZNPP.
NV: The IAEA mission is working at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Some of the experts, together with the head, have now left the nuclear station. They stayed there for several hours. What’s the current situation?
Kotin: The Energy Minister (Herman) Halushchenko and I accompanied the mission to our checkpoint on the way to Enerhodar. Later we met the mission there, which returned in the evening after inspecting the site of the ZNPP and assessing the situation at the nuclear station under the pressure of Russian invaders and so-called journalists –in reality, propagandists.
Four people are still left at the nuclear station, including technical (experts) and two people who are engaged in safety. They deal with (nuclear) fuel. The task of these two people is to determine that all the fuel at the ZNPP is used per our agreement with the IAEA, and that there is no loss of this nuclear material, it is under seals (in fact it is); that the storage history of this fuel is continuous, and that all information on the movement of this fuel is available and monitored.
NV: Has the IAEA established the integrity of the reactors?
Kotin: This is precisely the task of the safety experts. All nuclear reactors, all the fuel inside them, is under IAEA seals. They will check that all the seals are in place, that the television signal showing the status of these seals goes to the IAEA, and that everything is do in accordance with the agreement that we have with the IAEA. This is what these two people are doing.
The other four people are currently conducting a technical assessment of the risks at the nuclear station. And all this is caused by the fact that there are fascist Russian invaders there.
I know some experts in this technical group. I’ve previously participated with some of these experts in IAEA missions that take even longer – namely 20 days. I’ve been with them at some nuclear stations around the world, and I know that these are very professional people: they don’t need anyone to give a long song and dance, they have eyes and see everything that is happening there, and they don’t need any comments from the Russian side regarding this.
NV: Can we conclude that so far there has been no interference withfuel storage? Have the IAEA experts already made such a conclusion?
Kotin: We’re monitor this issue every day because we’re in constant contact with the staff at the nuclear station. We know that everything is fine with the nuclear fuel, meaning it’s in the places where it should be, and all the IAEA seals are in place.
The main question is for the four people who are technical experts and who will provide their conclusions regarding physical security violations at the nuclear station, regarding the violation of nuclear radiation safety rules. As for such questions – there are a lot of them.
We and the nuclear station gave preliminary information. The fact that all of the Rosatom representatives lied to the mission... This will not benefit the Russian fascists, but the opposite.
NV: Did you manage to talk with IAEA Director General Grossi after his return from the ZNPP?
Kotin: Yes, we were waiting for him at the checkpoint. He got out of the car and I and the energy minister spoke with him.
I can’t tell you what he said, but it gives me cautious optimism.
The mission has just begun. The IAEA experts will be permanently present at the nuclear station. This is what the task is, and thus (will monitor) violations of nuclear, radiation, and physical security. Gradually, we will move to a safe state of the nuclear station and to its safe operation.
Of course, this will require the de-occupation of the nuclear station. I think everyone understands this, especially the experts. We’ll see how Mr. Grossi can implement this idea. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said this. We believe this is the primary and ultimate solution that will ensure that the nuclear station operates safely under our control.
But due to the procedures that exist in the IAEA, we understand that what they have done is only the first step. They must gradually come to the implementation of this decision (de-occupation).
NV: Why did Mr. Grossi stay only a few hours at the ZNPP? Did he have enough time to draw some conclusions for himself?
Kotin: He is an official. And he planned to stay there (for a short time) from the very beginning. The mission itself was planned in such a way that he was to come to the nuclear station, make a general tour, study the main issues, and then leave the experts there, who are now, hopefully, working in an enhanced mode. They are the ones who will make the main conclusions.
These conclusions will be put into a relevant document, which will be handed over to Mr. Grossi in Vienna. After that, he will discuss them with the Ukrainian side – with us (Energoatom) as the operator, with the Energy Ministry, and with Ukraine in general. After that, it will have become a formal document with recommendations.
The only thing we know is that whatever the recommendations are, it will be impossible to implement them without the de-occupation of the nuclear station. Therefore, everything will depend on de-occupation.
According to Grossi, they cannot demand it directly. But everything they write will require de-occupation as a prerequisite.
NV: What is the work schedule of the IAEA experts who remained at the ZNPP? How much longer will they stay? Can we say that the IAEA mission will be permanent?
Kotin: From the information I know today: that’s the olan. The situation may change at any time though.
The others will leave the nuclear station in two or three days. And the technical report should be prepared during this time.
NV: How were the nuclear station’s employees interviewed? Did the communication take place under the supervision of the invaders? This could affect the information picture.
Kotin: We know that they (invaders) selected a special group of Enerhodar residents, who were given photos of the shelling. They (Russians) shelled Enerhodar very intensely the day before and then distributed photos to these residents. Later, the invaders approached Grossi with these people or rather led him to a crowd of people. And all these people showed him one by one photos saying “this is my home here, you see, the results of shelling of the town of Enerhodar by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
That is, the fascist invaders are trying to create a picture that they aren’t to blame for provocations, including shelling the town and the nuclear station, but (trying) to blame the Armed Forces of Ukraine for this.
We’ll see whether Grossi will talk about it at all, but after he returned yesterday from the occupation zone, he said a few words about it.
According to representatives of the nuclear station who were present there, he did not react in any way to all the provocations that were brought to him under the guise of Enerhodar residents. I can’t even tell you whether they were the residents of Enerhodar or some people trained by the fascists who have nothing to do with the local population.
Look at this (Renat) Karchaa, a representative of Rosatom, but actually a swindler from Abkhazia. He’s a traitor to Georgia. He made a career out of it, and moved to Moscow. Now he is in Enerhodar, accompanied (the mission) on the territory of the nuclear station, not understanding anything either about atomic energy or Ukrainian legislation. When a mission arrives, a person who is responsible, e.g. an operator, or a CEO, should meet it.
But this Karchaa, a ballistics expert, ran around the territory of the nuclear station, accompanied the mission, and showed fragments of shells, and rockets that did not explode and told where it had been fired from. As a reminder, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers put this Karchaa on the sanctions list due to his illegal presence at the ZNPP, violation of Ukrainian legislation, and for giving assistance to the Russians.