IAEA and Rosatom agree restart of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ‘impossible… under current conditions’ – Russian nuclear blackmail continues says Greenpeace CEE

IAEA and Rosatom agree restart of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ‘impossible… under current conditions’ – Russian nuclear blackmail continues says Greenpeace CEE

29 May 2024

Kyiv…According to reports from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has told Alexey Likhachev, the Director of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, that restart of reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is impossible under current conditions. (1) The meeting took place on 28 May. Likhachev has been reported as saying he agrees with the IAEA and that “Russia is not currently planning to restart the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”. (2) Greenpeace has been warning of Russian plans for restart since February and that restarting the reactors would dramatically increase the risk of a nuclear disaster. (3) In April, Greenpeace wrote to the IAEA Director Grossi urging him to, “to send an unambiguous message to Rosatom that plans for restart of reactors at ZNPP are unacceptable and not possible.” Greenpeace also asked the IAEA for a detailed explanation under what conditions they believed restart would be possible. (4) Less than two weeks ago, Greenpeace warned that Russian government documents submitted to the IAEA showed plans for Zaporizhzhia reactor restart, including the intention to construct a water pumping station from the Dnipro river. (5)

Meeting between IAEA and Russian government, Kaliningrad, 28 May 2024 - Source: Rosatom

“Russia was planning to restart the reactors at ZNPP, possibly as early as December this year - and now the head of Rosatom is saying there are no current plans. The IAEA Director General has sent a message that it is not possible. But he has also told Rosatom that the option exists for the IAEA to work with Russia to create conditions for restart. (6) There remains no explanation from the IAEA as to what those conditions would be. Giving a signal to Russia that there is an option to restart is irresponsible. There are no possible conditions during a full scale war and under Russian illegal occupation that restart of reactors at Zaporizhzhia is acceptable or legal. The restart of reactors at the Zaporizhzhia plant, as well as any other managerial decisions regarding plant operations, can only be made by the legitimate regulator, which is Ukraine,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was attacked and damaged by Russian armed forces on 4 March 2022, and it remains under occupation by Rosatom, the Russian nuclear regulator, and Russian military. The six reactors remain shut down but at high risk of failure. There has been no licensed safety maintenance program, there are inadequate and unqualified staff, multiple losses of external electrical power due to Russian shelling, and lack of make-up water supply due to Russian destruction of the Kakhovka Hydro Power Plant on 6 June 2023, and the resultant drainage of the Kakhovka reservoir. It was also reported by Russian news agency "RIA Novosti" on 28 May that Rosatom Director Likhachev, while agreeing with IAEA DG Grossi, also stated that restart was ‘not the subject for today’ (7).

“So long as the plant remains under Russian military occupation there is no day when the subject should be reactor restart at ZNPP. The threat from Russia to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains – as it continues its nuclear blackmail of Ukraine and wider Europe. The reactors remain on a cliff edge in terms of safety, even without a restart – and the only solution to this nuclear crisis is for Russia to end its occupation of the plant and the entire Ukrainian territory,” said Jan Vande Putte, nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Belgium.

Notes

1 – Breaking the news, IAEA: Impossible to restart Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, 28 May 2024, see https://breakingthenews.net/Article/IAEA:-Impossible-to-restart-Zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant/62120519. Attending the meeting from Russia were, Alexey Likhachev, Director General of the Rosatom State Corporation, head of Rostechnadzor Alexander Trembitsky, representatives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the radiation, chemical and biological defense troops of the Russian Armed Forces and the Russian National Guard.

2 – Reuters, Russia not currently planning to restart Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, TASS says, 28 May 2024, see https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-not-currently-planning-restart-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-power-plant-tass-says-2024-05-28/

3 – Greenpeace CEE, Greenpeace calls on IAEA Director General to warn Rosatom: No restart of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant!, 3 February 2024, see https://www.greenreconstruction.com/news/greenpeace-calls-on-iaea-director-general-to-warn-rosatom-no-restart-of-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant

4 – Greenpeace CEE, Grim anniversary: Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must not become the next Chornobyl 26 April 2024, see https://www.greenreconstruction.com/news/grim-anniversary-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-must-not-become-the-next-chornobyl

5 – Greenpeace CEE, Russian government publishes first detailed plans for restart of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Greenpeace condemns nuclear blackmail, 17 may 2024, see https://www.greenreconstruction.com/news/russian-government-publishes-first-detailed-plans-for-restart-of-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant---greenpeace-condemns-nuclear-blackmail

6 – IAEA Director General: restart of Zaporizhzhya NPP is impossible now, https://mind.ua/en/news/20274200-iaea-director-general-restart-of-zaporizhzhya-npp-is-impossible-now 

7 - Novosti, Grossi and Likhachev recognized the restart of the Zaporizhzhia NPP as impossible, 28 May 2024, see https://ria.ru/20240528/zaes-1948888015.html

Contacts

Lucia Sumegova - partnership coordinator - lucia.sumegova@greenpeace.org 

Polina Kolodiazhna - partnership coordinator - pkolodia@greenpeace.org 

Daryna Rogachuk- communication officer -
daryna.rogachuk@greenpeace.org
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