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IAEA: Shelling and power loss at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant highlight safety risks

by Abbey Fenbert November 27, 2023 1:29 AM 1 min read
A Russian soldier stands guard outside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant's second reactor on May 1, 2022. The picture was taken during a media tour organized by the Russian army. (Andrey Borodulin / AFP via Getty Images)
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The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant had to rely on backup electricity after losing its connection to its main off-site power line, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its Nov. 26 report.

IAEA monitors also reported hearing rocket fire close to the nuclear plant.

“Today’s events once again clearly demonstrate the extremely fragile nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant relies on electricity to cool its reactors. According to workers at the Russian-occupied plant, a short circuit 100 kilometers north of the site caused the plant to lose connection to its 750 kilovolt (kV) power line at around 10:30 a.m. local time.

That 750 kV line is the only one that remains out of four such lines that existed before Russia's full-scale invasion.

Plant workers said they are repairing the line, but it is not clear when it will be reconnected.

The plant is able to receive external power from its only available 330 kV backup power line.

“I remain deeply concerned about nuclear safety and security at the plant, both when it comes to its vulnerable off-site power supplies – which can be affected by attacks far away from the site – and the more direct military risks it is facing," Grossi said.

He added that "the apparent firing of rockets from near the plant is a special source of concern."

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is Europe's largest nuclear plant. It has been under Russian occupation since March 2022. Its front-line position means areas near the plant are frequently targeted by heavy shelling.

IAEA teams have been based at the facility on rotation since September 2022. Russian authorities still deny IAEA inspectors full access to the plant's units.

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