IAEA says “no critical impact” to Chernobyl safety after Ukrainian officials warn of nuclear leak

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there has been “no critical impact” to the safety of Chernobyl, following warnings by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the country’s security and intelligence service of a possible radiation leak, after the plant was disconnected from the state’s power grid.

The warnings came in response to reports from Ukraine’s energy operator Ukrenergo and state-run nuclear company Energoatom that Chernobyl’s power had been “fully disconnected,” threatening cooling systems that are integral to preventing a “nuclear discharge.”

In a tweet Wednesday, the IAEA said it had been informed by Ukraine that Chernobyl had lost power, but that it saw “no critical impact” on the plant’s safety.

“IAEA says heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply,” it added.

Ukraine’s foreign minister repeated Energoatom’s warnings, saying that Chernobyl had “lost all electric supply” and calling on the international community to demand Russia “cease fire” to “allow repair units to restore power.”

“Reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the Chornobyl NPP. After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent, ”Kuleba said in a tweet Wednesday.

Ukraine’s technical security and intelligence service echoed Kuleba’s concerns, warning that “all nuclear facilities” in the Chernobyl exclusion zone were without power, and that if the pumps could not be cooled, a “nuclear discharge” could occur.

Neither Kuleba nor the intelligence service commented on whether the diesel generators could be sustained beyond the 48-hour period.

On Tuesday, the IAEA said it had lost contact with remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at Chernobyl.

In a statement Tuesday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed his willingness to travel to Chernobyl and expressed his concern for the staff operating the nuclear plant.

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