The joint appeal to the IAEA, dated 2 March, was signed by energy minister Herman Galushchenko, acting chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRIU) Oleg Korikov and acting president of nuclear operator Energoatom Petro Kotin.
They also asked the IAEA to help prevent set up a 30-km exclusion zone around the country’s four commercial nuclear stations and to establish a centre for monitoring the situation at the facility, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.
Energoatom said Chernobyl staff have been held by the Russian military without rotation for the seventh day and are subjected to psychological pressure and are morally exhausted. They are said to have limited opportunities to communicate, move around or carry out routine work and repair work in full, which “leads to violations of the radiation regime and poses a danger to their lives and health”.
In a separate statement Energoatom said that as of 09:00 local time on 3 March, Ukraine's operating nuclear power plants were operating “safely and steadily” and providing enough electricity production for the needs of the country.
“There are no violations of safe operation conditions,” Energoatom said. “Radiation, fire and environmental conditions at nuclear power plants and in adjacent territories have not changed and are within the current norms.”
Ukaraine has 15 commercial power reactors at four nuclear stations – Zaporozhye, Rivne, Khmelnitski and South Ukraine. Nine are in operation and the rest either offline for scheduled outages or in reserve.
Earlier this week Energoatom refuted reports that Russia had taken control of the Zaporozhye nuclear station, but said troops were nearby and access roads were being blocked by civilians.
Zaporozhye, in the east of the country near the disputed region of Donetsk, is Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station, with six operating reactors each rated at 1,000 MW gross (950 MW net). It is also Europe’s largest nuclear power station and Ukraine’s largest electricity-generating asset.