The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has started providing on-site support to four other nuclear power plants in Ukraine in response to a request from the country, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Thursday. in a video statement.
The four additional factories are Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, South Ukraine and Chernobyl. Since September, IAEA experts have been providing on-site support to Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian forces.
Following Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, operational Ukrainian nuclear power plants in Zaporizhzhia, Rivne, southern Ukraine and Khmelnytskyi were disconnected from the grid and “forced to rely on diesel generators from emergency for the electricity they needed to ensure their continued safety and security,” Grossi said.
“This unprecedented situation would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. It is deeply worrying,” he said.
“We must do everything to prevent a nuclear accident at one of these nuclear facilities, which would only add to the terrible suffering we are already witnessing in Ukraine. Now is the time to act.”
A bit of context: Wednesday was the first time Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants were shut down simultaneously in 40 years, the head of state nuclear energy company Energoatom said in a statement. Petro Kotin said it was a precautionary measure and he expected them to be reconnected on Thursday evening. The three fully functional plants in Ukrainian hands would help supply electricity to the national grid, he said.
Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear energy, according to the World Nuclear Association. It has 15 reactors in four power plants which, before Russia’s large-scale invasion in February, produced about half of its electricity.
Russia focused on destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure ahead of the harsh winter season, and successive waves of strikes left much of the country facing blackouts.