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Russian shelling damaged on Wednesday the last two operational power lines at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, which is now running on backup diesel generators, Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom said on Thursday.
Zaporizhzhya has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the early days of the invasion, Russia shelled the Zaporizhzhya power plant, creating concerns about a nuclear disaster ten times bigger than Chornobyl.
Ukrainian staff is still operating the Zaporizhzhya power plant, but there are Russian occupying forces on the ground. Concerns about the safety of the nuclear power plant have been mounting in recent weeks.
Energoatom said today that on Wednesday, “as a result of russian shelling, the last two high-voltage transmission lines linking the Zaporizhzhya NPP to the Ukrainian power system were damaged. At 11:04 p.m., the power plant went into full black-out mode. All 20 diesel generators started operating.”
Fuel for the diesel generators to operate in the “full black-out” mode of the Zaporizhzhya plant is enough for 15 days, Energoatom added.
“Due to the occupation of the plant and the interference of Rosatom representatives in its operation, the opportunities of the Ukrainian side to maintain the ZNPP in a safe mode are significantly limited,” the Ukrainian company said.
“Such actions are another attempt by the russians to reconnect the nuclear power plant to the russian energy system. In the near term, they will try to repair and connect the ZNPP transmission lines in the direction of the temporarily occupied Crimea and Donbass,” according to Energoatom.
The company appealed again to the international community to take urgent measures for the demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhya plant as soon as possible and “the return of the Zaporizhzhya NPP to the full control of Ukraine for the sake of the safety of the whole world!”
The loss of access to external electricity following shelling overnight further underlines “the extremely precarious nuclear safety and security situation at the facility and the urgent need to establish a protection zone around it,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Thursday.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,