Ukraine’s nuclear regulator is in communication with staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after it was seized by Russian forces on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday.
Following reports staff at the plant had been forced to work at gunpoint, Rafael Grossi, head of the IAEA, told reporters the agency is in touch with Ukrainian nuclear officials and has obtained shift patterns for staff.
Grossi has repeatedly stressed the importance that staff operating Ukraine’s nuclear facilities be allowed to rest and rotate so they can carry out their jobs safely, according to the IAEA.
He called it a “tense” situation with Russian forces controlling the Zaporizhzhia plant and Ukrainian staff operating it, saying the situation “certainly cannot last for too long.”
The head of Energoatom, the body that oversees Ukraine’s power plants, told Grossi on Friday the atomic engineers at the plant were now allowed to change work shifts, according to a statement from the IAEA.
"This I think is important, it’s a sign that people are listening to us or at least to the things we are saying," Grossi said.
Chernobyl staff work without a break: However, the IAEA has not yet ascertained the shift patterns of staff at the Chernobyl power plant, he continued.
Russian forces have prevented Chernobyl workers from changing shifts since occupying the plant, meaning the same 100 personnel have been operating the plant for 10 days straight, Yuriy Fomichev, the mayor of Slavutych, told CNN on Saturday.
“We are continuing in our conversations,” said Grossi, adding that he is “prepared to come to Ukraine as soon as possible.”