The UN nuclear watchdog says an external power line to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been repaired after bombings disconnected the facility from the grid and the forced them to resort to emergency diesel generators.
BERLIN– An external power line to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – was repaired on Sunday after bombings disconnected the facility from the grid and forced it to resort to emergency diesel generators, said said the UN nuclear watchdog.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said the 750-kilovolt line was reconnected to the plant on Sunday evening after repair work by Ukrainian engineers. This allowed the plant to start shutting down generators that had started to supply it with electricity after the line – its last connection to the grid – was cut early on Saturday.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi tweeted that the reconnection was “temporary relief in a still untenable situation”.
The plant has been held by Russian forces for months, but operated by Ukrainian employees. The site’s six reactors are shut down, but still need electricity for cooling and other safety functions.
Grossi has spent weeks lobbying for the creation of a “nuclear protection and safety zone” around the plant. He says he will visit Russia and then see Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an effort to carry out this plan.
Grossi condemned the attacks “in areas likely to affect the safety and security” of the plant, including nearby Enerhodar and the Ukrainian-controlled provincial capital of Zaporizhzhia.
“Almost every day now there are shellings in the area where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is located and where the plant workers and their families live,” he said. “The bombing must stop immediately. This is already having an impact on the nuclear safety and security situation at the plant.
Ukrainian operating personnel told IAEA experts that a five-truck convoy carrying “vital additional supplies of diesel fuel” was currently in the town of Zaporizhzhia and planned to cross the front line to reach the plant on Monday, the agency said. The site currently has diesel reserves for around 10 days. Separately, a supply of diesel supplied by Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has arrived at Enerhodar, the IAEA added.
Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in violation of international law.
Putin on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring Russia taking control of the nuclear power plant. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void”. Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it would continue to operate the plant.
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