An external power line to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant – Europe’s largest – was repaired on Sunday after a bombing cut the facility off the grid and forced it to turn to emergency diesel generators, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said the 750-kilovolt line was reconnected to the station on Sunday evening after repair work by Ukrainian engineers. This enabled the station to begin shutting down generators that had started to power it after the line – its last connection to the grid – was cut early Saturday.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi tweeted that the reconnection was “a temporary relief in a situation that remains untenable.”
The station has been maintained by Russian forces for months, but it is run by Ukrainian staff. All six reactors at the site have been closed but still require electricity for cooling and other safety functions.
Grossi spent weeks lobbying for the creation of a “protection zone for nuclear safety and security” around the plant. He says he will travel to Russia and then meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to realize that plan.
Grossi condemned the attacks “in areas that could affect the safety and security of the plant,” including in nearby Enerhodar and in the Ukrainian-controlled regional capital Zaporizhzhia.
“Almost every day there is bombing in the area where the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is located and where the plant workers and their families live,” he said. The bombing must stop immediately. It is already having an impact on the nuclear safety and security situation at the plant.”
The agency said Ukraine’s operating staff had told IAEA experts that a convoy of five trucks carrying “vital additional diesel fuel supplies” was currently in the city of Zaporizhia and was planning to cross the front line to reach the plant on Monday. The site currently has diesel reserves of about 10 days. The International Atomic Energy Agency added that a separate supply of diesel from Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom had arrived at Enerhodar.
Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions of Ukraine annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in violation of international laws.
Putin signed a decree on Wednesday declaring that Russia was acquiring the nuclear 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 operating the plant.
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