Sunday, September 25

Damage caused by fighting between Russia and Ukraine forces the shutdown of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

The Ukrainian state-owned atomic energy company, Energoatom, has announced this Thursday that the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been disconnected from the electricity grid. According to Energoatom, the fourth and last active transmission line connecting the plant was cut due to fires in the plant’s ash dumps. The other three transmission lines had previously been damaged by Russian bombardment, the company said.

Russia rejects UN proposal to demilitarize Zaporizhia nuclear plant

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It is the first time that the Zaporizhia plant has been completely disconnected from the electricity grid and Energoatom has accused Russia of what happened. “The invaders’ actions led to the complete disconnection of the Zaporizhia NPP from the power grid, the first in the plant’s history,” the company said in a statement.

Energoatom reported that the plant’s internal energy needs are currently being covered through the Ukrainian power grid, so the plant is not turned off, but it has not provided information on the operation of the automation and safety systems. The company said operations are underway to connect one of the power units to the grid.

Located in Enerhodar, on the southern bank of the Dnieper River and southwest of the city of Zaporizhia, the plant, built in the Soviet era, is a strategic point for Ukraine, since fully operational provides 20% of the country’s electricity. In recent weeks, it has become one of the main focuses of international concern over the possibility that a nuclear accident could be triggered in the midst of the conflict.

The facility was seized by Russian troops at the beginning of the war, but its surroundings have come under attack in recent weeks, with both sides accusing each other. The kyiv government accuses Russia of using the plant as a weapons store and launching attacks from its surroundings, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing at the facility.

Possible UN visit

Last week, Russia rejected a proposal by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to demilitarize the area around the plant. But this Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his French counterpart that Moscow will provide inspectors from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the necessary assistance in a possible visit to the plant.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said Thursday that there is an “in principle of agreement” with Ukraine and Russia for the agency to carry out an inspection of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and that it could be carried out “in the coming days”.

According to Grossi there have been “doubts and political objections” on both sides, but there is no blockade. “I think we are very close to both sides accepting the visit. We cannot risk, in addition to the drama of war, a nuclear accident,” said the official.

French President Emmanuel Macron indicated last weekend, after a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Russia would be in favor of an IAEA inspection.