IAEA concern over communication issues at Zaporozhe : Regulation & Safety | #emailsecurity | #phishing | #ransomware

07 March 2022

Ukraine updates, 7 March: 

• Ukraine regulator says nuclear power plants continue to operate

• Radiation levels remain within normal range

• IAEA warns about phone and internet problems at Zaporozhe

• Russia says meeting with Ukraine and IAEA director general about nuclear safety ‘could be useful’ and held ‘virtually or in third country’

Two of Zaporozhe’s six units are operating at, or near, full power (Image: Energoatom)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been told that phone lines, email and fax were not functioning, with only some poor quality mobile phone service possible, so “reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through normal channels of communication”.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) also reported that it could only communicate by email with staff at Chernobyl, which Russian forces took control of last month.

In a statement published in the afternoon of Sunday 6 March, SNRIU said that safety parameters at Chernobyl remain within safety limits, although some monitoring equipment is out of order, and warns that some safety measures were not being observed, such as lack of “use of air locks, changing of clothing and footwear when visiting ‘dirty’ areas, decontamination” as well as the military equipment moving across the site.

In an update on Monday 7 March, the SRNIU said that Zaporozhe “there are no violations of NPP safe operation limits and conditions. Radioactive situation meets established norms. Systems of NPP physical protection work in normal mode. NPP security divisions and physical protection services are on high alert”.

Of the six reactors, unit 1 is in planned maintenance until mid-2022, unit 2 now operates at full capacity, unit 3 is in a cold shutdown state, unit 4 is operating at near full capacity, unit 5 is cooling down for a cold reserve state, and unit 6 is in cold shutdown.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed “grave concern” that it had been reported by Ukraine that any action by management at the plant, including technical operation of the six reactor units, required approval of the Russian commander.

“Just a few days after I presented the seven main elements of nuclear safety and security to the IAEA board, several of them are already being compromised. In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure,” Director General Grossi said.

“The deteriorating situation regarding vital communications between the regulator and the Zaporozhe NPP is also a source of deep concern, especially during an armed conflict that may jeopardise the country’s nuclear facilities at any time. Reliable communications between the regulator and the operator are a critical part of overall nuclear safety and security,” he said.

The IAEA said that it welcomed the news from SNRIU that the operational staff at Zaporozhe were now rotating in three shifts, but it said at Chernobyl, the staff of more than 200 technical staff and guards have not been able to rotate since 23 February.

Grossi said last week that well-rested staff was needed “in any activity, but particularly here where you have to be very focused and not make mistakes … this can lead to mistakes”.

In Sunday’s statement he said: “I call on those in effective control of Chernobyl to immediately allow staff there to rotate for the sake of safety and security.”

The IAEA also said that SNRIU had said contact had been lost with “all enterprises and institutions in the port city of Mariupol that use Category 1-3 radiation sources”.

Grossi offered on Friday to travel to Chernobyl to meet with both sides to secure commitments to the safety and security of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

According to Russia’s representative to the IAEA,  Mikhail Ulyanov, who had discussions with the director general on Monday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin had told French President Emmanuel Macron in a conversation on Sunday “that a meeting between Russia, Ukraine and IAEA on safety and security at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, as suggested by the IAEA Director General, could be useful. It can be arranged virtually or in a third country”.

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) held an extraordinary meeting about the Ukraine situation on Sunday, with the participation of officials from the IAEA, SNRIU and the West European Nuclear Regulators’ Association. It said it supported the IAEA’s efforts to seek an agreement on the safety of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

It added that it “reiterates its call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its unlawful activities in order to restore SNRIU’s control over all nuclear facilities and materials within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders, in line with the internationally recognised safety standards and security guidance”.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

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