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The cooling towers of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in Varash, Ukraine.
The cooling towers of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in Varash, Ukraine. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is traveling to Ukraine next week to establish a constant presence of safety experts at all of the country’s nuclear power plants.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will be in Ukraine next week to ensure a continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all of the country’s nuclear power plants. accident during the current military conflict,” the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

While the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant already has IAEA team members on site, experts will also be stationed at the Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Plant in western Ukraine in the coming days. The IAEA said Grossi will travel to the nuclear power plants of southern Ukraine and Rivne — as well as the Chernobyl site — to set up the missions of two IAEA members at each site.

Grossi will also meet senior Ukrainian government officials in Kiev to discuss setting up a repeatedly called for nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporizhzhia. Kiev has accused Russia of using the plant as a cover to launch attacks, knowing that Ukraine could not return fire without risking hitting one of the plant’s six reactors. Moscow, meanwhile, claimed Ukrainian forces targeted the site.

“I remain determined to realize the much-needed protection zone as soon as possible. My talks with Ukraine and Russia are progressing, albeit not as fast as they should be. I keep hoping that we can quickly agree on the zone and implement it,” said Grossi.

According to the statement, the last remaining 330-kilovolt backup power line from the Zaporizhzhia power station has been reconnected to the power station after being disconnected last week.

Grossi also “reiterated its grave concerns about the pressures facing ZNPP employees, with potential implications for nuclear safety and security,” the statement said.

“The reduced ZNPP workforce combined with the psychological stress resulting from the ongoing military conflict and the absence of family members who have fled the area have created an unprecedented situation that no NPP personnel should have to endure,” he said.

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