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March 10, 2022

Power supply disrupted at Chornobyl nuclear power station

The Ukrainian regulator is concerned the power failure may cause a radiation leak at the plant.

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Ukraine has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the power supply to the Chornobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) has been disrupted, meaning the plant has lost its supply of external power.

Reuters reported that the Ukrainian regulator has also raised concerns that the power supply failure might lead to a radiation leak at the nuclear facility.

Despite this, IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi said that this would not have any ‘critical impact’ on essential safety functions at the site, which is also home to other radioactive waste management facilities.

Regarding the site’s spent fuel storage facility, Grossi said that there is enough cooling water present in the pool to remove heat from the spent fuel without an electricity supply. He added that the site has reserve emergency power supplies in form of diesel generators and batteries.

Grossi said: “From day to day, we are seeing a worsening situation at the Chornobyl NPP, especially for radiation safety, and for the staff managing the facility under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances.

“I repeat my urgent appeal to the forces in effective control of the plant to respect internal radiation protection procedures, to facilitate the safe rotation of staff, and to take other important steps to ensure safety.”

Grossi has raised concerns that the plant would not have a ‘secure off-site power supply’ from Ukraine’s electricity grid’. This is one of his seven ‘indispensable pillars’ of nuclear safety and security, which he outlined at a meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors on 2 March.

On 9 March, the IAEA said that it had lost connectivity with the Chornobyl NPP.

The same personnel are understood to have been working at the plant since Russia’s military took control of it on 24 February.

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