Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant loses connection to the power grid

Ukraine the world’s largest nuclear power plant again lost its main connection to the power grid amid sustained bombardment, despite the presence of international inspectors.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant now relies on a reserve line to supply electricity to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

Inspectors from the UN’s nuclear watchdog arrived at the site last Thursday despite concerns about the constant shelling in the area. Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the repeated artillery fire.

A Russian soldier guards an area of ​​the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. An international team of experts inspected the site. (AP)

IAEA experts at the facility, which is currently owned by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian labor, were told on Saturday by senior Ukrainian officials that the fourth operational 750 kv power line of the factory was down. Three others have already been lost.

However, a reserve line connects the installation to a neighboring thermal power station which supplies electricity to the external network. It can also provide backup power to the plant if needed. The plant had previously been temporarily disconnected from the main power line on August 25.

Separately, the plant’s management also informed the IAEA team that the plant’s number five reactor was disconnected on Saturday afternoon due to network restrictions.

The fifth reactor was also taken offline on Thursday when IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited the site. This was due to an internal electrical fault and was reconnected on Friday. The plant has six reactors, of which only two are functioning.

This composite of satellite images taken by Planet Labs PBC shows smoke rising from fires at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. A team of United Nations experts will inspect the factory. (AP)

There is still one operating reactor that generates electricity for cooling, other essential safety functions, and for households, factories and others on the grid, according to the IAEA statement.

General manager Grossi called his team’s presence at the facility a “game changer” in a statement.

“Our team on the ground received direct, timely and reliable information on the latest significant development affecting the plant’s external power situation, as well as the operational status of the reactors,” Grossi said.

“We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line to connect the facility to the grid. This is crucial information to assess the overall situation there.”

A Geiger counter shows an increase in radiation levels in Nikopol, a town near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. A team of United Nations experts will inspect the factory. (AP)

Grossi said the nuclear watchdog plans to produce a report this week to address the state of the facility.

After the IAEA visit on Thursday, six members of the team remained on site to continue their work. Of these, two are expected to remain as part of the agency’s plan to establish a continuous presence at the nuclear plant that could help ward off the possibility of a dangerous nuclear accident.

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