Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Cooling towers at the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in Varash, Ukraine.
Cooling towers at the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in Varash, Ukraine. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will travel to Ukraine next week to establish a permanent presence of safety experts at all of the country’s nuclear power plants.

“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will be in Ukraine next week to establish an ongoing presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all of the country’s nuclear power facilities, greatly enhancing the IAEA’s efforts to help prevent a proliferation of nuclear accidents during the current military conflict,” According to a statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.

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While members of the IAEA team are already at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear plant site, the experts will also be stationed at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine in the “coming days.” The International Atomic Energy Agency said Grossi would travel to nuclear power plants in southern Ukraine and Rivne – as well as to the Chernobyl site – to set up two missions of agency members at each site.

Grossi will also meet with senior Ukrainian government officials in Kyiv to discuss the creation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporozhye. Kyiv has accused Russia of using the plant as cover to launch attacks, knowing that Ukraine could not return fire without risking hitting one of the plant’s six reactors. Meanwhile, Moscow claimed that Ukrainian forces were targeting the site.

“I remain determined to make the much-needed protection zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are making progress, though not at the required speed. I remain hopeful that we can agree on and implement the zone soon.”

According to the statement, Zaporizhzhia’s last remaining 330 kV backup power line has been reconnected to the station, after suffering an outage last week.

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The statement added that Grossi “reiterated his serious concerns about the pressures faced by ZNPP employees, with potential consequences for nuclear safety and security.”

He said, “The low staffing levels of the ZNPP combined with the psychological stress due to the ongoing military conflict and the absence of family members who fled the area has created an unprecedented situation that no NPP employee should have to endure.”

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