Amid growing concerns about a potential radiation leak, repairs have begun to restore power to the defunct Chernobyl nuclear facility, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Saturday.
“#Ukraine’s nuclear regulator informed IAEA that efforts to repair power lines at #Chornobyl nuclear power plant continue: diesel generators provide back-up power; 211 technical personnel and guards still not able to rotate,” the IAEA tweeted on Saturday.
“[IAEA] Director General Grossi has repeatedly stressed the urgent need to ensure they can properly rest and rotate, saying this is also a vital element for safe and secure nuclear power operation,” the agency further said in a statement reminding Russia of nuclear safety protocols.
Additionally, CNN reported that the director general of Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, had told the IAEA that new fuel to keep the Chernobyl reactors running had arrived on March 11.
The news comes a day after Ukrainian intelligence accused Russia of plotting a false flag “terrorist attack” on the Chernobyl power plant.
The Ukrainian intelligence alleged that Ukrainian staff at the Chernobyl facility were not being allowed to carry out repairs to the damaged electrical grid to restore power to the station, adding that Russia had facilitated the entry of “Belarusian specialists” instead.
“At the moment, the CAEC [Chernobyl] is completely disconnected from the monitoring systems of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The station has been disrupted. The resource of existing diesel generators is calculated for 48 hours of security systems to support,” the Ukrainian intelligence had further said, warning that the complete depletion of fuel could lead to a radiation leak.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, Russian forces have moved swiftly to capture nuclear facilities in Ukraine: while Chernobyl fell on the first day of the invasion, the Russians captured the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest, days after.
However, Russia has not yet gained operational control of Zaporizhzhia yet, but Ukraine has told the IAEA that Russia is making moves to take “full and permanent control” of the facility under the management of Rosatom.