RUSI and Canada Host Workshop on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Safety and Security

On 12 March, the Royal United Services Institute – in partnership with the Government of Canada – hosted a workshop in Vienna to discuss post-occupation nuclear safety and security at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine.

Workshop participants included government representatives and experts on nuclear safety and security, military sciences and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergency preparedness and response.

The focus of the discussion was on identifying the likely risks to the ZNPP in the case of a future Russian withdrawal or retreat from the facility, approaches to managing these risks and what support the international community may be able to provide Ukraine to this end.

The workshop included discussion on the following topics:

  • the nature of the military activity that may take place around the facility in the case of a future Russian retreat from the site;
  • ways in which the Russian occupying forces may sabotage the facility;
  • possible failures of critical reactor operations and systems;
  • the medical and humanitarian implications of a potential radiological incident at the facility (to Ukraine and surrounding countries);
  • the impact of the occupation on ZNPP personnel (with a particular focus on the role of women in maintaining safe operation of the facility and countering misinformation);
  • ongoing support to Ukrainian authorities on nuclear safety and security;
  • the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency in monitoring and supporting the state of nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP.

Commenting on the discussion, Research Fellow Darya Dolzikova – RUSI’s lead for the workshop – said:

Russia has shown a blatant disregard for human life, as well as for nuclear safety, in Ukraine. The ZNPP and its surrounding communities remain at risk so long as Russia continues to occupy the facility. Unfortunately, there is currently no indication of an imminent Russian withdrawal from the site. However, the legwork needs to be done now to ensure that – in the case of a future Russian retreat from the facility – the Ukrainian authorities, as well as the broader international community, are ready to respond to any incident that may occur as a result of negligence or deliberate sabotage on the part of Russian personnel, and to ensure the safety of the plant, its staff and surrounding communities.

Darya Dolzikova​

Research Fellow

To find out more about RUSI’s work on nuclear safety in Ukraine, visit the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme’s webpage.


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