Russian government publishes first detailed plans for restart of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Greenpeace condemns nuclear blackmail

Kyiv, May 17, 2024 - Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) condemns in the strongest possible terms the plans of Rosatom, the Russian State Nuclear Corporation, and the Russian government to proceed with the restart of nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The first details of Rosatom’s plans are contained in an official document submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by the Russian government on 14 May, 2024 [1]. The submission reveals plans for the construction of a large pumping station, designed to supply water for the nuclear plant. Following the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka dam on 6 June 2023, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant no longer was able to access water from the Kakhovka reservoir. The six reactors at Zaporizhzhia have been shut down since 2022. In an analysis published in February 2024, Greenpeace CEE warned that the nuclear plant site would require a new pumping system to extract water from the Dnipro river channels near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. [2]

“Since Russia attacked, damaged and occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on March 4, 2022, the risk of a nuclear disaster has been high. But if plans proceed to restart reactors at the plant the level of risk and the consequences will be much more severe. This submission to the IAEA is outrageous, with Russia claiming that its, “main task is to prevent threats to the safety and security of the plant created by the Kyiv regime.”  No – the threat of a nuclear disaster is entirely due to Russia’s war and occupation of the plant – and this is another case of Russian nuclear blackmail which has the potential to explode across Ukraine and Europe,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

The Russian submission to the IAEA discloses for the first time that a pumping station is to be constructed. The station would have capacity to supply up to 18,000 cubic meters of water per hour to the cooling pond. Greenpeace analysis has indicated two potential locations for the new pumping station.

In February 2024, Greenpeace CEE in its analysis of the many obstacles to restart, focused on the water problem, and urged the IAEA Director General to take a strong position against any Russian plans for restarting the Zaporizhzhia reactors. In March 2024, Greenpeace issued a warning that restart of one or more reactors at the nuclear plant site could lead to a disaster greater than Fukushima or even Chornobyl.[3] Last month, Greenpeace International wrote wrote to the IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, seeking assurances that the IAEA will not in any way facilitate Rosatom in the restart the reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.(4)

“Rosatom has no legal authority to operate the Zaporizhzhia plant - that lies entirely with the Ukrainian regulator and owner. It also lacks a sufficient number of skilled and qualified workers familiar with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. For more than two years maintenance of critical installations has been wholly inadequate and on eight occasions the plant has lost all off site electrical power due to the war. The electricity supply is essential for the water cooling pumps to the reactors and spent nuclear fuel as well as other safety systems and remains highly unstable. The water supply to the cooling pond has been significantly compromised since the destruction of Nova Kakhovka dam by the Russian armed forces. Restarting one or more reactors in such a situation is not only outrageous it shows a blatant disregard for nuclear safety protocols. Urgent efforts by the international community, including the IAEA, must be made to stop these plans from being implemented,” said Jan Vande Putte, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Belgium.

Greenpeace CEE is campaigning for comprehensive European Union sanctions against Rosatom and their nuclear partners in Europe and worldwide and actively supporting the development of renewable energy in Ukraine. 

For further information:

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

1 - Communication from the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the Agency, INFCIRC/1208, 15 May 2024, see www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/infcircs/2024/infcirc1208.pdf

2  – Greenpeace CEE, Is Rosatom Planning The Restart Of Zaporozhzhia Reactor(s)?, 3 February 2024, see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mipUyMmnA0XXlD57UOQfduYkvj6LcANb/view

3 – Greenpeace Germany, Second anniversary of Russia’s nuclear plant attack in Ukraine, 5 March 2024, see https://www.greenreconstruction.com/news/second-anniversary-of-russias-nuclear-plant-attack-in-ukraine

4 – Greenpeace CEE, Grim anniversary: Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must not become the next Chornobyl, 26 April 2024, see https://greenpeace.at/cee-press-hub/chornobyl-38-anniversary/

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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