No staff rotation at Chernobyl for a week: IAEa

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The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Ukrainian authorities have informed that there has been no staff rotation at the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant due to the takeover of the nearby city of Slavutych by Russian forces.

In a statement, the UN nuclear watchdog said it was informed on Saturday that the city, where a large number of the plant’s staffers live, was seized by the Russian troops, making it difficult for the workers to regularly rotate and return to their homes.

Slavutych is located outside the Exclusion Zone that was set up around the plant after the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Russian forces took control of site on February 24, the day Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Kiev.

Last week, Ukraine’s regulatory authority said that Russian shelling of checkpoints in Slavutych prevented the staffers from travelling to and from the site.

On Saturday morning, the Ukrainian regulator told IAEA the last staff rotation was on March 20-21, “when a new shift of technical personnel arrived from Slavutych to replace colleagues who had worked at the site since the day before the Russian military entered the site, where radioactive waste management facilities are located”.

There was “no information when or whether” a new change of work shift would take place, it added.

Although operations stopped at the plant after the disaster, Chernobyl was never fully abandoned and still requires constant management.

Out of the country’s 15 operational reactors at four sites, the IAEA said eight were continuing to operate, including two at Zaporizhzhya, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine.

The other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance.

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