IAEA intervention in Chernobyl next week

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit the Chernobyl power plant next week to “intensify efforts to prevent the threat of a nuclear accident,” according to a statement released on Friday.

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Rafael Grossi will arrive on April 26, the anniversary of the 1986 disaster, with a team of experts from the UN body to deliver “vital equipment” (dosimeters, protective suits, etc.) and to carry out “radiological and other checks”.

“We will be able to better understand the situation based on our own scientific measurements and technical assessments,” the IAEA official said in the statement.

Ukrainian authorities said in mid-April that they were unable to restore radioactivity monitoring equipment at the site in northern Ukraine, where Russian soldiers say they are building an underground network and exposing themselves to high levels of radiation in the process.

The scene of the worst nuclear disaster in history, it fell to the Russians on February 24, the first day of their offensive, and then fell victim to a power outage and a communications network. According to Kyiv, Russian soldiers withdrew there at the end of March.

Since then, the situation has gradually returned to normal, according to the IAEA’s daily reports, which were prepared on the basis of information from the Ukrainian regulator.

Workers who had to work non-stop for several weeks “now rotate regularly” although “the general situation in the region remains difficult due to damaged bridges and demining operations”.

During their visit, the agency’s experts will also “repair the remote surveillance systems that stopped transmitting data to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna shortly after the start of the war.”

Rafael Grossi had already traveled to Ukraine at the end of March to lay the foundations for an agreement on technical assistance. He had visited Yuzhno-Ukrainsk’s southern power plant before meeting senior Russian officials in Kaliningrad.

“The military conflict poses an unprecedented threat to power plants and other sites in the country,” he warned at the time.

Ukraine has 15 reactors in four operating plants, in addition to waste storage sites such as Chernobyl. The IAEA plans “further missions in the coming weeks” to inspect these sites.

Still occupied by the Russians, the Zaporijjia power plant, the largest in Europe, had suffered artillery attacks in early March, causing a fire in adjacent buildings and raising fears of a catastrophe.

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