Who Controls the Nuclear Plant in Ukraine?

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located 200 kilometers northwest of the Russian port of Mariupol, has been under Russian supervision since Moscow troops captured it early in the war. Despite this, Ukrainian personnel still operate the facility. The six-unit plant is made up of Russian-designed VVER-1000 (V-320) reactors that were put into service between 1984 and 1995. Ukraine's Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection, Oleksiy Orzhel, noted that the danger of projectiles hitting spent containers of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel was especially serious. This is especially concerning given the 1986 Chornobyl disaster in northwestern Ukraine, which is still considered the world's worst civil nuclear accident.

In 1996, the former nuclear entity Goskomatom created a new nuclear services company, the National Nuclear Energy Generating Company (NNEGC) Energoatom. In order to diversify the supply of nuclear fuel, Energoatom began implementing the Ukrainian Nuclear Fuel Rating Project (UNFQP) for VVER-1000 fuel. This would allow greater use of Ukraine's nuclear capacity and consists of generating funds to pay for the increase in that capacity in Khmelnitski by completing units 3% 264. Article 56 of the 1979 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions contains a provision stating that nuclear power plants “shall not become objects of attack, even if these objects are military objectives, if such an attack may result in the release of dangerous forces and consequent serious losses among the population civil.” In the World Nuclear Association reactor table, K 3% 264 are listed as under construction, but construction is currently suspended. The European Commission (EC) recently approved Euratom funding for Ukraine a few days before the permanent closure of Chernobyl.

This was done to give a clear signal of the Commission's commitment to nuclear safety. The computers at the site were looted or damaged, but the actual nuclear equipment at the decommissioned plant was not affected. The Ukrainian military launched drone strikes against Russian forces stationed at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine reported that three radiation sensors were damaged and a worker was injured at the Zaporizhia power plant due to new Russian bombardments over two consecutive days at Europe's largest nuclear facility.

Nuclear fuel produced from Ukrainian components by TVEL in Russia is sent to nuclear power plants in Ukraine. It is intended for research in nuclear physics, as well as for the production of isotopes, particularly for nuclear medicine.