Kyiv [Ukraine], March 29 (ANI): Amid heavy fighting between Russia and Ukraine, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi travelled to Ukraine to start delivery of urgent technical assistance to ensure the safety and security of the country's nuclear facilities and help avert the risk of an accident that could endanger people and the environment.
The aim of the Director General's visit is to initiate prompt safety and security support to Ukraine's nuclear facilities. It will include sending IAEA experts to prioritized facilities and the shipment of vital safety and security supplies including monitoring and emergency equipment, read the IAEA press release.
"The military conflict is putting Ukraine's nuclear power plants and other facilities with radioactive material in unprecedented danger. We must take urgent action to make sure that they can continue to operate safely and securely and reduce the risk of a nuclear accident that could have severe health and environmental impact both in Ukraine and beyond," Director General Grossi said.
During this week's visit, the Director-General will travel to one of Ukraine's nuclear power plants.
The IAEA has drawn up concrete and detailed plans for safety and security assistance to Ukraine's nuclear sites, which include fifteen nuclear power reactors at four plants as well as the Chernobyl NPP, where radioactive waste management facilities are located following the 1986 accident.
Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there has not been any rotation of technical staff at the Chernobyl nuclear plant since March 21, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday (Local Time).
In an IAEA statement, Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said, Ukraine also did not know when the next rotation might take place.
The IAEA's technical assistance will also facilitate conditions for the IAEA to continue carrying out its safeguards activities in Ukraine in line with its non-proliferation mandate, added the release.
"Ukraine has requested our assistance for safety and security. We will now start delivering it. Ukraine has one of Europe's largest nuclear power programmes. The IAEA's presence, which was needed to ensure safety and security, is of paramount importance. We are ready to provide the necessary support now," he said.
Since the start of the conflict, Director-General Grossi has expressed his grave concern about the deteriorating safety and security situation for Ukraine's nuclear facilities.
He has stressed the IAEA's commitment and readiness to help ensure that the seven indispensable pillars for ensuring safety and security are adhered to.
In recent weeks, several of them - including the physical integrity of facilities, the ability of operational staff to work without undue pressure, and the access to off-site power - have been seriously compromised.
"There have already been several close calls. We can't afford to lose any more time. This conflict is already causing unimaginable human suffering and destruction. The IAEA's expertise and capabilities are needed to prevent it from also leading to a nuclear accident," he said.
The Director-General is expected to hold a press conference upon his return to Vienna later this week. (ANI)