ZURICH (Reuters) – Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday that it had carried out the first staff rotation at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in three weeks, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said, adding the agency would send a mission there soon to assist in returning in to normality.
Russian forces occupied the defunct power station north of Kyiv soon after invading Ukraine on Feb. 24 but Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said in early April they had left the plant and were heading towards the border with Belarus.
The IAEA on Sunday said Ukraine had provided the agency with more information about damage to the site’s analytical laboratories for radiation monitoring, saying the premises were “destroyed and the analytical instruments stolen, broken or otherwise disabled”.
An associated information and communication centre was also damaged and the automated transmission of radiation monitoring data disabled, the Ukrainians reported.
“While it is very positive that Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring regulatory control of the Chornobyl site, it is clear that a lot of work remains to return the site to normality,” Gossi said in the statement.
“As soon as it is possible, I will head an IAEA mission to Chornobyl to conduct a radiological assessment there, resume remote safeguards monitoring of the facility and its nuclear material and deliver equipment.”
Gossi said he was in close consultation with Ukraine regarding arranging a visit, which was expected to take place “soon”.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)