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IAEA head to visit Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant amid staff shortages

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The staff at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya has shrunk from around 11,500 to 4,500 under Russian occupation, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said on Thursday ahead of his trip to Ukraine.

Grossi plans to visit the power plant near the front line in Ukraine again next week. The low staffing levels will be a central topic in his talks with the Russian operators of the nuclear power plant, Grossi announced in Vienna.

“It is of crucial importance that the plant has the qualified and skilled staff that it needs for nuclear safety and security,” said Grossi.

The IAEA director general warned the United Nations Security Council last week that the staffing levels at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant were “not sustainable” in the long term. The facility is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. It has been under Russian occupation since March 2022.

Since Thursday, the Russian nuclear power plant management has instructed that no specialists from the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom are allowed to work at Zaporizhzhya, the IAEA’s latest situation report shows.

According to the report, only former Energoatom specialists who have signed contracts with the Russian operator and personnel seconded from Russia are now working at the plant.

The Russian management of the power plant pointed out to the permanent IAEA observers on site that Russian nuclear power plants manage with significantly fewer staff than Ukrainian ones.

Grossi plans to hold talks with high-ranking Ukrainian representatives in Kiev on Tuesday and then visit the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

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