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Russian occupiers at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant force reactor into 'hot shutdown'

by Abbey Fenbert July 25, 2023 2:53 AM 2 min read
Reactor 4 at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo via Energoatom Telegram channel.)
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Occupying Russian forces at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant ordered reactor 4 into a "hot shutown" state in violation of safety protocols, the Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom announced via Telegram on July 24.

"Such actions are a gross violation of the requirements of the license to operate this nuclear facility," Energoatom said. "Currently, ZNPP Unit 4 should be operated exclusively in the 'cold shutdown' state."

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant since March of 2022. In June 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russians had planted explosives at the plant in preparation for a possible attack. The warnings came shortly after a Russian attack destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant on June 6.

The destruction of the dam caused significant safety risks for the Zaporizhzhia plant,  which relied on cooling water supplied by the dam and the Kakhovka Reservoir. Transferring reactor 4 into hot shutdown heightens those risks.

Petro Kotin, the president of Energoatom, called the decision to tranfer the reactor to a hot shutdown state "criminal."

"This is a deliberate and intentional violation of Ukrainian and international law," Kotin said.

At the time of the Kakhovka attack, five of the ZNPP's six reactors were in a "cold shutdown" state, with one, reactor 5, in "hot shutdown." After the attack, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called for all the reactors to be brought into a cold shutdown state.

On the edge of disaster: What could really happen if Russia destroys Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
In late June, 16 months into the full-scale Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky alerted his nation of an unprecedented threat. Russia, the president said, had rigged the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with explosives, and was ready to set off the charges and cause radiation to…
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