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Ukraine Could Shut Europe’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant If It Loses Control

If Ukraine loses operational control at Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, currently occupied by Russian forces, Kyiv would consider shutting down the power plant, Yuriy Boyko, an adviser to the Ukrainian prime minister, said on Thursday.

Ukraine could consider turning off the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant at the slightest threat that it could lose operational control, Interfax news agency quoted the official as saying.

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which has typically generated around 20 percent of Ukraine’s total electricity.

In the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia shelled the Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe’s largest, creating concerns about a nuclear disaster ten times bigger than Chernobyl. 

Ukrainian staff are still operating the Zaporizhzhia power plant, but there are Russian occupying forces on the ground. Russia has also sent its own nuclear power experts to monitor the work of the Ukrainian staff.

“As long as the control commands are executed and the site maintains the regime, we are not stopping. But we are also looking at a scenario in which the station could move completely out of control and we stop it,” the Ukrainian official said today.  

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), continues his efforts to organize an IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhya NPP “to carry out important nuclear safety, security and safeguards activities at this site in the country’s south,” the IAEA said in its latest update on the situation in Ukraine earlier this week.  

“Ukraine separately informed the IAEA today that there had been no significant developments related to nuclear safety and security in the country over the past 24 hours,” the agency said on Tuesday.

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Ukraine also told the IAEA that eight of its nuclear reactors are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP. The seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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