DISASTER MANAGEMENT

IAEA Delivers Specialized Safety And Security Equipment To Chornobyl

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By Sinead Harvey, Office of Public Information and Communication

The IAEA has delivered specialised equipment to Ukraine in the first major step in its technical assistance to help the country ensure the safety and security of its nuclear facilities during the ongoing conflict.

Responding to an earlier request from Ukraine for equipment, an IAEA team, headed by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, arrived at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant yesteday to conduct radiological assessments and restore safeguards monitoring systems as well as to deliver equipment such as radiation detectors, spectrometers and personal protective clothing. 

Included in the batch of equipment are personal radiation detectors to detect and monitor radiation levels throughout the site. These robust and versatile personal radiation detectors are widely used by nuclear safety and security experts worldwide.

“The equipment, under the guidance of our staff on the ground, can be operational within minutes and can immediately support the staff at Chornobyl to fulfil their nuclear safety and security tasks,” said Director of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre, Carlos Torres Vidal.

The IAEA team also handed over spectrometers which assess the level of radiation in the environment and provide a spectrum that is like a fingerprint identifying the type of radiation. This will help Chornobyl staff to assess the radiological situation at the site and the Exclusion Zone, spanning 30 kilometres around the plant.

Spectrometers carried in personal backpacks were provided to support extended surveying with GPS mapping capabilities. The backpack lets the user focus on walking safely around an area instead of looking at a screen and numbers. This is especially necessary in an area like the Exclusion Zone.

As a result of the conflict and the prevailing conditions following the 1986 accident, the situation in the Exclusion Zone is uniquely challenging. Ukraine recently informed the IAEA that Chornobyl’s analytical laboratories for radiation monitoring were destroyed, and analytical instruments stolen, broken or otherwise disabled.

The IAEA’s presence in Chornobyl will be of paramount importance, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant said in a statement. “We have been cooperating with the IAEA for many years in a row, and I am sure that now we will continue to have fruitful and successful cooperation,” said Acting Director-General Valeriy Seyda.

The IAEA assistance team also brought personal protective equipment from Vienna. Such protective garments provide protection against some types of radiation, as well as from radioactive contamination and inhalation, and therefore help to manage the risks posed to staff who due to the nature of their work are exposed to radiation.

In addition to nuclear safety and security assistance, IAEA safeguards staff travelled within the assistance team to Chornobyl this week to conduct on-site safeguards work. They will install equipment to reactivate remote data transmission from its monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl plant.

“This is just a first step. The IAEA will be sending more equipment as we continue our assistance to Ukraine in the coming weeks and months,” added Torres Vidal.

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