UN nuclear watchdog to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine

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VIENNA – The United Nations nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors will convene an emergency meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday (Mar 2), where war is raging in a country with four functioning nuclear power plants and multiple waste facilities, including Chernobyl.

According to diplomats, Board members Canada and Poland convened the meeting at the request of Ukraine, which is not a member of the Board. Non-Board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, such as Ukraine, can call a Board meeting, but the issues that can be discussed are broader if a Board member calls one.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors will convene on Wednesday to review the present situation in Ukraine,” the IAEA said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

The conference at 1000 GMT (6pm Singapore time) will discuss “the safety, security, and safeguards implications of the crisis in Ukraine,” according to a diplomat.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last week, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has expressed worry and “called on all parties to desist from any measures or activities that could jeopardize the security of nuclear material, as well as the safe operation of all nuclear facilities.”

The spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe at a now-defunct power station, have been captured by Russian soldiers. The IAEA confirmed on Saturday that the staff on duty had not been changed since Thursday, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.

Staff at Chernobyl must be able to work and rest normally, according to the IAEA, which means they must be rotated out to ensure the site’s safety.

According to diplomats, Ukrainian officials also notified the IAEA that Russian missiles struck a nuclear waste disposal site in Kyiv overnight, but there was no obvious damage and the results of on-site radioactive monitoring were still pending.

Source: Reuters

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