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    Single and indivisible atom // How Zaporozhye NPP can work in Russian jurisdiction

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    The possible accession of the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine to Russia following a referendum starting on September 23 will raise the question of the status of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the world’s first nuclear power plant that ended up in the territory of active hostilities. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at 6 GW runs the risk of falling into a gray area of ​​international regulation, which has also never happened before. “Kommersant” figured out who could become the new operator of the station in the Russian Federation and how the IAEA would act.

    Referendums in the DPR, LPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions on their accession to Russia are scheduled to begin on September 23. Based on the experience of Crimea, in the event of a positive decision, these regions will not only become part of the Russian Federation themselves, but also the property located on their territory, which previously belonged to the authorities and state-owned companies of Ukraine, should become the property of the region itself or Russia. Among other things, this process should affect the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), the largest in Europe, with a capacity of 6 GW. although de facto the ZNPP has been under the control of the Russian military since the beginning of March. Rosatom specialists are present there, but only to provide “advisory assistance,” the state corporation said in March.

    Only a Russian legal entity that has the necessary licenses and is included in a special list can operate a nuclear power plant in Russia, points out Mergen Doraev, partner at EMPP law firm. By default, the Rosenergoatom concern (part of Rosatom) is engaged in this, but in order for it to receive the property of ZNPP and create a branch in Zaporozhye, it will be necessary, for example, to nationalize the property of Energoatom with its subsequent contribution to the authorized capital of the Russian organization, the lawyer clarifies.

    Possible official appointment of Rosatom as the new ZNPP operator would create new sanctions risks for the state corporation. Potentially, they can be reduced if ZNPP is managed by an enterprise independent of Rosatom, for example, on the basis of Rostekhnadzor, which carries out nuclear supervision in the Russian Federation, Anton Imennov, senior partner at Pen & Paper believes. Rosatom did not comment, Rostekhnadzor was unable to respond promptly.

    “The transfer of ZNPP to another jurisdiction will not be recognized outside of Russia and may take years: the Russian operator and regulator need to issue new licenses , carry out certification of personnel, check equipment, many of which are not certified in the Russian Federation,” notes independent analyst Dmitry Gorchakov. He notes that the station consists of VVER-1000 reactors well known to the Russian side, but they have been operated in another country for 30 years, according to other norms and rules, and have been modernized there. In addition, some of the reactors are loaded with fuel from the American Westinghouse, which the Russian operator probably will not want to use, and it will take time to replace it. for work: the Ukrainian nuclear supervision, which does not recognize the nuclear power plant as Russian, may revoke the licenses, and Russia will not have time to issue them yet,” notes Dmitry Gorchakov. The licensing process in the Russian Federation may be delayed also because the new operator and regulator will have to take full responsibility for the operation of a nuclear power plant in a war zone for the first time. does not have nuclear weapons. Under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement , IAEA inspectors, in particular, must visit nuclear power plants to verify that nuclear material is not being used for military purposes. But inspectors are not required to regularly visit nuclear power plants in nuclear powers (Russia, China, Great Britain, the USA, France) – voluntary safeguards agreements are concluded with them. Formally, the transfer of ZNPP to Russian jurisdiction could reduce the responsibility of the international agency in terms of monitoring it.

    However, the IAEA, most likely, will not recognize ZNPP as a Russian facility and will not put it on voluntary guarantees. This happened in 2014 with the research reactor in Sevastopol after the annexation of Crimea: the IAEA considers it Ukrainian, without having access to it, recalls Andrey Baklitsky, senior researcher at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. Russia‘s proposals to place the reactor under guarantees were not successful, he reminds. At the same time, on the initiative of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, a new mechanism appeared: two representatives of the agency remained at the ZNPP as observers. “However, while the IAEA could use the mechanism, because Russia recognized the nuclear power plant as Ukrainian and provided access from Ukraine. If this changes, it is difficult to imagine how the IAEA Director General will be able to continue this activity,” Andrey Baklitsky believes. due to regular shelling and power line breaks. In the context of ongoing shelling, lack of personnel and from the point of view of safety, it is better to leave the station in a cold shutdown, Dmitry Gorchakov believes, in this state the units can be practically “infinitely long.”

    However, the decision to start the station will be depend, among other things, on the needs of the region for electricity. With the ZNPP switched on, it has an energy surplus, but it is not possible to judge the energy balance in the current situation. The Russian military administrations of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions claim that they receive electricity from the Crimea through two restored power lines of 330 kV each. Humanitarian supplies of electricity from the Russian Federation to the LPR continue. The Ministry of Energy did not answer Kommersant‘s questions.

    New territories will also have to be included in the wholesale energy market of Russia. Two scenarios are possible: joining the regions to the first price zone (the European part of the Russian Federation and the Urals) by analogy with the Crimea, or creating a new non-price zone. Both options will make it possible to create additional mechanisms for the repair of local power plants through non-market surcharges to the price of capacity for all consumers in Russia. Due to such allowances, the Balaklava and Tavricheskaya TPPs for 470 MW were built in Crimea, and the Sakskaya TPP was expanded by 120 MW. However, according to Kommersant‘s sources in the market, a substantive discussion about the work of the energy market in the regions is possible only after the end of hostilities.

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