Ukrainian nuclear power plant loses external power: watchdog

FILE A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine lost all external power on Wednesday and is running on emergency diesel generators, the United Nations’s nuclear watchdog agency said.

This is the second time in less than a week that the nuclear power plant has been disconnected from its last operating power line, said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Zaporizhzhia power plant lost power on Saturday during renewed shelling near the plant, which Grossi denounced as “tremendously irresponsible.” The connection was restored the next day.

The emergency diesel generators currently serving the plant provide its six reactors with electricity for cooling and other safety functions, according to the IAEA. These generators have enough fuel for about 10 days.

Ukraine’s state nuclear energy agency Energoatom confirmed the loss of external power on Wednesday. Energoatom said the plant lost power at around 9 a.m. local time, when a rocket attack damaged a substation in the Dnipropetrovsk region. 

The state energy agency said it has dispatched more diesel fuel to the nuclear power plant but accused Russia of not allowing the vehicles to pass. Russian forces control the territory around the plant.

“The repeated loss of off-site power at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is deeply worrying,” Grossi said in a statement. “The fact that the plant’s external power was lost because of an incident far away shows how vulnerable it is with only one power line connecting it to the grid.”

Energoatom also accused Russia on Tuesday of kidnapping and torturing the deputy head of the nuclear power plant. The state agency said in early October that Russia had kidnapped the plant’s head, and Ukrainian employees at the plant have reported being shot and beaten by Russian soldiers

The situation at the plant has become increasingly tense since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Russian ownership of the plant. The move followed his formal annexation of four Ukrainian regions, including Zaporizhzhia, at the end of September.

Putin expressed his concern about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia power plant during a meeting with Grossi on Tuesday.

Tags Energoatom International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi Rafael Mariano Grossi russia Russia-Ukraine war ukraine Vladimir Putin Zaporizhzhia power plant Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant zaporzhzhia

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