U.N. nuclear watchdog to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine

The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seen at their headquarters during a board of governors meeting, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
  • Canada, Poland call meeting at Kyiv's request - diplomats
  • Russia has seized Chernobyl site, staff unable to leave
  • IAEA calling on "all parties" to ensure nuclear safety
  • Ukraine says missiles hit radioactive waste site in Kyiv

VIENNA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday about Ukraine, where war is raging in a country with four operational nuclear power plants and various waste facilitiesincluding Chernobyl.

Board members Canada and Poland called the meeting at the request of Ukraine, which is not on the Board, diplomats said. International Atomic Energy Agency member states that are not on the Board, like Ukraine, can call a Board meeting but the possible range of topics is wider if a Board member calls one.

"The IAEA Board of Governors will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the current situation in Ukraine," the IAEA said in a statement, confirming a report by Reuters.

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The agenda item for the 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) meeting is: "The safety, security and safeguards implications of the situation in Ukraine," a diplomat said.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began last week, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi has expressed concern and "called on all parties to refrain from any measures or actions that could jeopardize the security of nuclear material, and the safe operation of all nuclear facilities".

Russian forces have seized the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear accident at a now-defunct power plant. Staff on duty there have not been changed since Thursday, the IAEA said on Saturday, citing Ukraine's nuclear regulator.

Staff at Chernobyl must be able to work and rest as normal, the IAEA said on Saturday, meaning they must be rotated out to ensure the site's safety.

Diplomats say Ukrainian authorities have also informed the IAEA that Russian missiles hit a radioactive waste disposal site in Kyiv overnight but there was no visible damage and the results of on-site radioactive monitoring were pending.

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Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ed Osmond

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