Security & Safety

Ukraine / Khmelnitski Nuclear Station Blasts Highlight ‘Precarious Situation’, Says Grossi

By David Dalton
26 October 2023

President Zelenskiy says Russia probably targeted facility with drones

Khmelnitski Nuclear Station Blasts Highlight ‘Precarious Situation’, Says Grossi
Shockwaves damaged the windows of several buildings at the site, the IAEA said. Courtesy Energoatom.

Powerful explosions shook an area near the Khmelnitski nuclear power station in western Ukraine early on Wednesday (25 October), shattering many windows at the site and temporarily cutting power to some offsite radiation monitoring stations, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi said the incidents once again highlighted the dangers to nuclear safety and security during the military conflict.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a Russian drone attack had probably targeted the nuclear power station. Press reports said the explosions had injured 20 people.

The Vienna-based IAEA, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, said blasts from the drone attack did not affect the station’s operations or its connection to the grid. Power was temporarily cut to some offsite radiation monitoring stations.

Shockwaves damaged the windows of several buildings at the site, including the passageway to the reactor buildings, an auxiliary building, a special equipment building, the training centre, and other facilities, the IAEA said. The seismic monitoring stations installed in the vicinity of the station also recorded the seismic impacts of the blasts.

IAEA experts at the station said air raid sirens went off at 01:26 local time, followed later in the morning by the sound of two loud explosions. They were subsequently told that two drones had been shot down at a distance of approximately 5 km and 20 km from the site, respectively.

“This incident again underlines the extremely precarious nuclear safety situation in Ukraine, which will continue as long as this tragic war goes on,” Grossi said. “The fact that numerous windows at the site were destroyed shows just how close it was. Next time, we may not be so fortunate.”

The Khmelnitski nuclear power station has two reactors, of which one is operating. The other has been in a planned outage since early August.

Two further units, Khmelnitski-3 and -4, are officially listed by the IAEA as “under construction”, but both units were to be supplied by Russia.

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