The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine has shut down one of its two operational reactors due to mortar shelling from Russian forces that are occupying Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian operator of the facility, Energoatom, said on Thursday. The renewed shelling and reported renewed military activity in the area comes just as inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are set to head out to inspect the damage at Zaporizhzhya from previous shelling. In early August, intense shelling close to the nuclear power plant raised concerns about the safety of the facility.
Zaporizhzhya has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. In the early days of the invasion, Russia shelled the Zaporizhzhya plant, creating concerns about a nuclear disaster ten times bigger than Chernobyl.
Ukrainian staff are still operating the Zaporizhzhya power plant, but there are Russian occupying forces on the ground.
In a statement today, Energoatom said “Today, September 1, 2022, at 4:57 am, due to another mortar shelling by the russian occupying forces at the Zaporizhzhya NPP site, the emergency protection was activated and the operating power unit 5 was shut down.”
The plant’s operator also said that a backup power supply line used for in-house needs was damaged. In the transitional mode, the non-operating power unit 2 was de-energized with the start-up of diesel generators.
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“Power unit 6 keeps operating in the power system of Ukraine and at the same time powers the ZNPP's in-house needs,” the operator said of the last remaining operational reactor.
Meanwhile, the IAEA inspectors left Kyiv on Wednesday en route to the nuclear power plant, hoping they would be able to set up a permanent mission at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, and that the team of inspectors would be able to talk to the Ukrainian technicians working at Zaporizhzhya.
But Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russia-installed provisional administration in the area, told Russian news agency Interfax on Tuesday that the IAEA inspectors “should inspect the work at the plant in one day”.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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So they are shelling themselves?
More likely is the Russians are using the nuclear plant as cover to attack Ukraine, so Ukraine is shelling Russia whilst attempting not to blow up the plant.