Ukraine: Current status of nuclear power installations

Zaporizhzhia Ukraine

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine. Image: Ralf1969, Wikimedia Commons

As events unfold in Ukraine, the NEA collects information from verifiable and reliable sources to support its members’ efforts to maintain an understanding of the state of nuclear safety and radiological protection in that country. Because our Ukrainian colleagues are faced with a highly uncertain, ever-changing and very challenging situation it is to be expected that obtaining detailed information on a regular basis may not be possible.

Electricity grid

  • The electricity grids of Ukraine and Moldova were successfully synchronised with the Continental European Grid on 16 March.

Nuclear power plants

  • In Ukraine 15 pressurised water reactors of Russian VVER design are operated by the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” at four plants. These plants operate under nuclear safety regulations implemented by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU).
    • Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant has two existing reactors and two reactors under construction.
      • Khmelnytskyi NPP was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 March under the agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The inspection was carried out by inspectors of the Agency with the participation of an SNRIU inspector. The purpose of the inspection was to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and information on the design of the nuclear installation provided to Ukraine in accordance with the Agreement.
      • One reactor was in operation on 11 May.
    • Rivne nuclear power plant has four reactors. On 11 May two of these reactors were in operation.
    • South Ukraine nuclear power plant has three reactors, two of which were in operation on 11 May.
    • Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has six reactors. Information received from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine is that: 
      • Unit 1 is in outage.
      • Unit 2 remained connected to the grid on 11 May.
      • Unit 3 were disconnected from the grid on 4 March and was in cold shutdown mode on 6 March.
      • Unit 4 remained connected to the grid on 11 May.
      • Unit 5 is being cooled down.
      • Unit 6 was in cold shutdown mode on 6 March.
      • According to available information, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was shelled on the night of 4 March but the resulting fire has since been extinguished and had no impact on essential equipment. The plant management is now under orders from the commander of the Russian forces that took control of the site.
      • Subsequent reports have highlighted that two of the four high voltage (750 kV) offsite power lines to the site were damaged. Another high voltage line is on standby. The operator informed the IAEA that the plant’s off-site power needs could be provided with one power line and that diesel generators were also ready and functional to provide back-up power if required. The NEA is closely monitoring the situation.

Chernobyl exclusion zone

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant consisted of 4 operating units and 2 under construction at the time of the accident in April 1986 in Unit 4. It is also the site for an Interim Spent Fuel Facility and a Central Spent Fuel Facility.

  • Unit 1 is being  decommissioned; Unit 2 was closed in March 1999; Unit 3 was closed in December 2000; Unit 4, the site of the accident, was initially protected by a Sarcophagus. A New Safe Confinement was built to enclose the existing sarcophagus and moved into position in 2016; Units 5 and 6 were under construction at the time of accident, but were never finished.
  • Construction was completed of an Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility in 2017. The facility stores and processes spent fuel assemblies from Units 1, 2, and 3.
  • The Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF),  is a dry storage site for used nuclear fuel assemblies from the reactors at KhmelnytskyiRivne and South Ukraine.
  • On 25 February, following reports of higher radiation measurements at the Chernobyl site, Ukraine’s regulatory authority stated that they may have been caused by heavy military vehicles stirring up soil still contaminated from the 1986 accident. The readings reported by the regulator – of up to 9,46 microSieverts per hour – are low and remain within the operational range measured in the Exclusion Zone since it was established, and were therefore judged by the IAEA to not pose any danger to the public.
  • As of 27 February, no increase in ambient dose rate has been detected in European countries, via the European Radiological Data Exchange Platform (EURDEP).
  • On 9 March the SNRIU informed international partners that the Chernobyl plant had been disconnected from the electricity grid and lost its supply of external power. The SNRIU reported that backup diesel generators were running and had 48 hours of fuel.
  • On 13 March the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom announced that two of the damaged electricity lines were now repaired and delivering all required off-site power to the Chernobyl plant.
  • On 31 March the Russian forces that have been in control of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) since 24 February had, in writing, transferred control of the NPP to Ukrainian personnel.
  • On 11 May remote transmission of safeguards data from the plant to the IAEA was fully re-established.

National Science Center, Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology

The Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology is the site of an experimental nuclear reactor used for research and to produce isotopes for medical and industrial use. The installation was placed in a deep subcritical state (“long-term shutdown”) mode on 24 February 2022.

  • Information received from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine is that the facility was damaged by shelling on 6 March but did not cause any increase in radiation levels at the site. Initial reports were that a substation was destroyed; cables for the air conditioner cooling systems of the linear accelerator cluster gallery were damaged, and that heating of the entire complex was damaged.
  • Information received from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine is that as of 4 April the Institute was completely without power due to damage to the central distribution substation but that on-site radiation levels were within standard limits.

State Interregional Specialised Plants for Radioactive Waste Management (SISP) of UkrDO Radon – Kyiv Branch

The Kyiv Branch of SISP is used to store disused radioactive sources that had been applied in medical treatments, industrial uses, and scientific research. 

  • On 26 February, news organisations reported that this facility was struck by a bomb or missile; however it is now confirmed that the facility has not been damaged and operation of the its automatic monitoring system has been restored. There are no reports of radiological releases.
See also