Blackout at Chernobyl and loss of transmission at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — IAEA

Power was cut at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine said on Wednesday, but the UN’s atomic watchdog said there was “no critical safety impact”.

News of the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster came as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said data transmission had also been lost at the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant, the largest in Europe.

Russian forces bombed and captured the Zaporizhzhia plant on March 4, sparking a fire that raised the alarm in Europe of a possible nuclear disaster.

Earlier, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, its troops seized the former Chernobyl plant, site of a 1986 disaster that killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination across Europe.

On Wednesday, Kyiv’s energy operator Ukrenergo said on Facebook that the station “was completely disconnected from the power grid”.

The IAEA said in a tweet that if development “violates [a] key pillar of safety”, in this case, he found “no critical impact on safety”.

On Tuesday, he had expressed concern for personnel working under Russian guard at the site.

The situation for Chernobyl personnel was “deteriorating”, he said, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.

The plant is inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities.

More than 2,000 employees still work at the plant as it requires constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Wednesday that “standby diesel generators have a capacity of 48 hours to power” the plant, but added that “after that, the plant’s cooling systems will storage of spent nuclear fuel will stop”.

Ukrenergo said the military operations meant “there was no possibility of restoring the lines” at Chernobyl and there was also no power for the site’s security systems.

The reason for the loss of transmission at Zaporizhzhia was unclear and the disruption of data streams at the two sites was concerning, the IAEA said.

Chernobyl also lost transmission to the IAEA, the agency reported on Tuesday.

“The remote transmission of data from IAEA safeguards equipment located at nuclear sites around the world is an important part of the implementation of our safeguards, in Ukraine and around the world,” said the Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi.

“Such systems…enable us to monitor nuclear materials and activities at these sites when our inspectors are not present.”

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