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Overnight blackout reported at Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 2, 2023 11:31 AM 2 min read
A view of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was forced to rely on diesel generators overnight during a blackout, threatening the safety of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, Ukraine's state nuclear energy company Energoatom reported on Dec. 2.

The plant, which is located on the east bank of the Dnipro River in Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast, was forced to rely on diesel generators after the 330 kV backup and 750 kV main power lines were cut off.

Energoatom did not give the exact reason for why the blackout happened, but said the plant was cut off from the main line during an air raid alert.

According to Energoatom, "all 20 diesel generators turned on automatically, eight of which were later left in operation."

"Thanks to the efforts of Ukrainian specialists," the 759 kV power line was restored at around 7 a.m. local time, Energoatom reported.

The main danger of losing external power is that the fourth reactor could overheat as a result of the cooling pumps being switched off.

Russian occupying forces keep the fourth reactor in a hot state, in violation of how the Ukrainian regulator determined the reactor should be operated. "The block needs an urgent transfer to a cold state," Energoatom said.

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant since March 2022. Throughout the full-scale invasion, the plant has been repeatedly disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid due to Russian attacks on the country's energy infrastructure.

For four months between March and July 2023, the plant was disconnected from the 330 kV backup power line due to damage on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has staff based at the nuclear plant on rotation since September 2022 to monitor the situation.

IAEA: Shelling and power loss at ZNPP highlight nuclear risks
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.

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