Grossi says water replenishment may be needed in ‘a few months’
Ukraine’s occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has sufficient water levels in a cooling pond onsite despite the reduced height of waters in the Kakhovka reservoir, said Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during a visit to the plant yesterday.
“It is important that water in the cooling pond remains at the present level so that the [Zaporizhzhia] plant can continue to be cooled”, said Grossi. “Obviously, this will not last for too long, a few months maybe, but the plant will be working on replenishing the water through alternative measures which we are studying with them,” he said.
Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear operator Energoatom said today that water levels in the cooling pond at Zaporizhzhia measure 16.67 metres, a reading unchanged since the start of the week and confirmed by Russian official media.
Energoatom has said these water levels are enough to feed the plant’s cooling needs since none of its six VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors are currently operational.
Grossi reiterated previous messages about the seriousness of the situation at Zaporizhzhia but said the current plant management is “fully” taking measures to “stabilise” the situation.
“I needed to see with my own eyes what the situation is,” said Grossi. “There were some contradicting information and views as to the level of the water…I could speak with the management here and they explained to me what they are planning to do. It seems sensible.”
The IAEA head said he was able to see the cooling pond, the water retention gates, the canals and the inlet which constitute a system “indispensable for the cooling functions” at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
The IAEA said on Sunday that the levels of the Kakhovka reservoir near the Zaporizhzhia plant were sufficient to keep inlet water pumps operable, but said it would need access to the site to assess certain “discrepancies” in water height measurements.
“We believe we have gathered a good amount of information for an assessment of the situation and will continue permanently monitoring the situation in order to help prevent a nuclear accident,“ Grossi said.
Russia has been in control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, since its troops captured it in March 2022. On 6 June 2023, a powerful explosion shattered the wall of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river releasing a massive tidal wave over settlements located downstream.
The Ukrainian government and western allies have accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam, while Moscow has returned the allegations.
A view from the intersection of the cooling pond with the Dnipro river (and former Kakhovka reservoir). The six units of the Zaporizhzhia plant are visible in the distance. Image courtesy Frederick Dahl / IAEA.