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Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority

Ukrainian Nuclear Safety Authority Significantly Weakened

Director Per Strand of the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA) met with his colleagues from the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority (SNRIU) this week. SNRIU has been significantly weakened due to the war and has lost many of its inspectors. This situation could impact the nuclear safety at all facilities in Ukraine. 

Last updated: 15. mai 2024 11:16

The Director of DSA met with the Head of the Ukrainian Nuclear Safety Authority, Oleh Korikov.

"The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put nuclear safety under pressure. An atomic incident could have widespread consequences in Europe and for Norway. It is in our interest to collaborate in this field", says Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mister Espen Barth Eide. 

Since the outbreak of the war, the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority has lost many of its inspectors. Some have had to flee Ukraine, some are in the military, while others are in occupied areas. “In addition to the direct threat of warfare, the war makes it difficult for our colleagues in Ukraine to fully carry out their responsibilities. They lack personnel and resources, cannot conduct inspections in multiple locations, and are under significant pressure. This increases the risk of accidents and incidents that could result in radioactive releases or the misplacement of radioactive sources,” says Director Per Strand of DSA. 

Crucial role 

International conventions emphasize that an effective, independent nuclear safety authority is crucial for ensuring the proper operation of nuclear facilities. Ukraine’s nuclear safety authority is responsible for ensuring that all radiation use and nuclear facility operations comply with regulations and permits. Inspections at these facilities play a vital role. 

Ukraine has four nuclear power plants, including Zaporizhzhia, where Russian forces have taken control. There have been several direct attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, and personnel have been abducted and threatened. Additionally, the nuclear power plant has lost external power supply on multiple occasions. 

“Norway has assisted the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority as best we can, but the situation is serious. Our Ukrainian colleagues are doing an impressive job under extremely challenging conditions,” says Strand. 

Long-Term Support 

For many years, Norway has contributed to strengthening nuclear safety in Ukraine through the government’s nuclear action plan and, since 2023, through the Nansen program. DSAs collaboration with the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority includes regulatory development, procedures to ensure control during wartime, environmental monitoring, public information, and nuclear emergency preparedness.  

A woman and a man talking to each other
Deputy Minister Svitlana Grynchuk from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Director Per Strand.

During the visit to Ukraine this week, representatives from the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA) also had meetings with the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and with Energoatom (the state-owned company that operates Ukraine’s nuclear power plants). A new agreement on nuclear safety in Chernobyl was also signed. 

In the meeting with Deputy Minister Svitlana Grynchuk from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, various topics were discussed. One of the key points was the need to secure energy supply. Deputy Minister Grynchuk provided an overview of the damages caused by this week’s massive attacks on the energy infrastructure. 

"She expressed gratitude for Norway’s support in enhancing the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants. This highlights the importance of international collaboration in ensuring nuclear safety, especially in the context of ongoing conflict and energy challenges in Ukraine", says Strand.