The UN nuclear watchdog lists out several safety recommendations for the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, such as halting shelling on-site immediately and re-establishing off-site power supply.

The UN atomic watchdog agency urged Russia and Ukraine to establish a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the Zaporizhzhia power plant amid mounting fears the fighting could trigger a catastrophe.
The UN atomic watchdog agency urged Russia and Ukraine to establish a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the Zaporizhzhia power plant amid mounting fears the fighting could trigger a catastrophe. (AFP)

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has issued a report on the situation in Ukraine including at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) where it has established a presence.

Tuesday's report makes "seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security during an armed conflict." 

They are listed below:

1. Stop shelling immediately

"While the ongoing shelling has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security with potential impact on critical safety functions that may lead to radiological consequences with great safety significance."

"Recommendation 1: The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities, for the safety of the operating staff and to maintain the physical integrity to support safe and secure operation. This requires agreement by all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP."

2. Maintain safety systems

"Maintaining all safety systems for the ZNPP in normal operation and the physical protection system operational is a result of the efforts made by the operating personnel. However, these efforts are being taken under very challenging circumstances with military personnel and equipment as well as representatives of Rosatom being present on the site."

"Recommendation 2: The IAEA recommends that the physical protection system should be operated as designed and licensed, and that the continued functioning of safety and security systems and operability of the systems and equipment at ZNPP be ensured. This requires the removal of vehicles from areas that could interfere with the operation of safety and security systems and equipment."

READ MORE: IAEA team arrives at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant despite shelling

3. Staff conditions

"Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian military occupation are under constant high stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available. This is not sustainable and could lead to increased human error with implications for nuclear safety. A sufficient number of operating staff must be able to carry out their important duties without threats or pressure undermining not only their own safety but also that of the facility itself, and any support required to ensure the health of the staff and their families must be provided."

"Recommendation 3: The IAEA recommends that an appropriate work environment, including family support, for operating staff should be re-established. Furthermore, as the operator has the prime responsibility for nuclear safety and security, it should be able to fulfil its mission with clear lines of responsibilities and authorities."

4. Secure off-site power

"On several occasions, the ZNPP lost, fully or partially, the off-site power supply as a result of military activities in the area. Off-site power is essential for the continued safe operation of the plant."

"Recommendation 4: The IAEA recommends that the off-site power supply line redundancy as designed should be re-established and available at any time, and that all military activities that may affect the power supply systems end."

5. Effective supply chains

"Recommendation 5: The IAEA recommends that all concerned parties should commit and contribute to ensuring effective supply chains for continued nuclear safety and security of the plant under all conditions including safe transportation corridors, taking advantage of the IAEA assistance and support programme as appropriate."

READ MORE: UN experts to stay at Ukraine nuclear plant to 'continue with assessment'

6. Emergency response

"Recommendation 6: The IAEA recommends that (1) the emergency response functions should be drilled and exercised, and the emergency response facilities to support these functions be re-established, and (2) preparedness should be re-established through regular training, clear decision-making chains and readily available communication means and logistical support."

7. Reliable communication

"Since the start of the conflict, a lack of communication means and channels has been witnessed. This critical shortcoming only serves to exacerbate current challenges in maintaining the safe and secure operation of the plant with adequate regulatory oversight and in ensuring an effective response locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to any nuclear safety or security event."

"Recommendation 7: The IAEA recommends that reliable and redundant communication means and channels, including internet and/or satellite connectivity, should be ensured with all external organisations necessary for the safe and secure operation of the facility."

READ MORE: Ukraine nuclear plant operator flags radioactive risk amid new shelling

Source: Reuters