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Management of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has come under the orders of the commander of the Russian forces who took control of the site last week, Ukraine told the UN atomic watchdog.
Russian forces at the site also cut off some communications networks, including cellphones and the internet, Ukraine’s regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both measures contravene two of the seven pillars of nuclear safety, the IAEA said in a statement on Sunday.
“I am extremely concerned by these developments which have been brought to my attention today,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s managing director.
“Just days after presenting the seven core elements of nuclear safety and security to the IAEA’s governing board, several of them are already compromised,” he added.
“In order to be able to operate the plant safely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties under stable conditions without interference or undue external pressure.”
Ukraine informed the IAEA on Sunday that the management of the plant, including measures related to the technical operation of the six reactors, must be approved by the Russian commander, the agency said in a statement.
Grossi said this contravenes the nuclear safety and security pillar which states that operating personnel “must be able to perform their safety and security duties and have the ability to make decisions without undue pressure”. .
Ukraine also reported that Russian forces at the site, the largest of the country’s four active nuclear power plants, are blocking reliable information from the site through normal communication channels.
Ukraine’s nuclear regulator confirmed to the IAEA that it had had “major problems” communicating with personnel operating the Zaporizhzhya plant. The Ukrainian watchdog said phone lines, emails and faxes were down. Cell phone communication was possible but of poor quality.
The IAEA said this violates another pillar that requires reliable communication with the regulator and others.
Grossi added that Ukraine informed him that regular staff continued to operate the nuclear power plant. The regulator confirmed that radiation levels remained normal.