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Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Link lost to main power line

todaySeptember 3, 2022 6

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UN inspectors at the Zaporizhzhia plant - 1 SeptemberImage source, Reuters

Image caption,

UN inspectors arrived at the plant on Thursday

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine has lost its link to its last remaining main power line, the UN nuclear watchdog says.

The plant is now relying on a reserve line to supply power to Ukraine’s grid.

Pro-Russian local officials said the cut was caused by “technical problems” resulting from shelling. Both sides accuse the other of shelling the plant.

This comes less than 48 hours after the UN established its presence at the plant amid growing safety concerns.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived at the plant on Thursday.

After inspecting it, the agency’s chief Rafael Grossi said the integrity of the plant had been “violated several times”.

Zaporizhzhia, in southern Ukraine, is Europe’s largest nuclear plant. It was occupied by Russia soon after it invaded Ukraine in February.

Ukrainian staff who continue to operate the plant say Russian troops have used it as a military base and that workers are in effect held at gunpoint.

The IAEA said in its statement that its presence at the plant was a “game-changer” as it had received fast and reliable information about the latest development.

“The agency’s experts were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the [Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s] fourth operational 750 Kilovolt (kV) power line was down,” it said.

“The three others were lost earlier during the conflict.”

However, a 330/750 kV reserve line was delivering energy to the grid and could provide power to the plant if necessary, it added.

The IAEA noted that the main power line was also temporarily disconnected on 25 August.

Separately, the Russian defence ministry said it had thwarted an attempt on Friday evening by Ukrainian armed forces to seize the plant.

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