The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has stopped sending data to the UN nuclear watchdog, the agency said Tuesday, as it expressed concerns about personnel working under Russian guard at the Ukrainian facility.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine and seized the defunct Chernobyl factory, the site of a 1986 disaster that killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination to western Europe.
Chernobyl signals lost
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, “indicated that remote data transmission from control systems installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was lost,” the agency said in a statement.
“The Agency is investigating the status of security control systems in other locations in Ukraine and will provide more information shortly,” it said.
The IAEA uses the term “guarantees” to describe technical measures it applies to nuclear materials and activities with the aim of countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons by detecting early misuse of such materials.
More than 200 technical staff and security guards are still trapped at the site, who have been on the job for 13 days straight since the Russian takeover.
The situation for personnel “deteriorated” at the site, the IAEA said, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.
The defunct factory is located in an exclusion zone with decommissioned reactors and radioactive waste facilities.
More than 2,000 employees still work at the plant, as constant management is needed to prevent another nuclear disaster.
The UN agency called on Russia to rotate workers as rest and regular shifts were critical to site security.
“I am deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing the Chernobyl nuclear power plant personnel and the potential risks it poses to nuclear safety,” Grossi said.
“I call on the forces effectively controlling the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there.”
With the remote data transfer shut down and the Ukrainian regulator being able to contact the plant only by email, Grossi reiterated his offer to travel to the site or elsewhere to “commit to the safety and security” of Ukraine’s power plants. of all parties.
Russia also attacked and seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhya, last week, accusing Kiev of “nuclear terror”.
Zaporizhzhya six reactors alone with a more modern, safer design than the one melted down at Chernobyl.
The IAEA said two of them were still in operation, the plant’s staff were working shifts and radiation levels remained stable.
© Agence France-Presse