Power line to ZNPP reactor broken due to mine explosion, says IAEA

1 November 2022, 12:26 PM
The ZNPP has been under the occupation of the Russian Federation since March 4, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The ZNPP has been under the occupation of the Russian Federation since March 4, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The power supply line to the fourth reactor at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant was shut down due to a landmine blast, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi said on Oct. 31.

The explosion occurred in the evening of Oct. 30 outside the perimeter fence of the plant, which is the largest one in Ukraine in terms of generating capacity.

"A landmine explosion cut the main power supply connection to one of the reactors of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), in the latest incident underlining the fragile nuclear safety and security situation at the facility during the current military conflict," he said.

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The IAEA pointed out that the explosion occurred on Oct. 30 in the evening outside the ZNPP’s perimeter fence, which resulted in the disconnection of the 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line between the switchyard of the station and the main electrical transformer of Unit 4.

Instead, Unit 4 now receives the electricity needed for cooling and other important nuclear safety and security functions from a backup line.

The ZNPP’s six nuclear reactors are now all shut down. Four out of six were operating when Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Two reactors were shut down shortly after the invasion began, and another after the plant was captured by invading Russian forces.

The last reactor was shut down on Sept. 11, but the non-operating reactors still require an external power source for their cooling units to maintain safety.

Another sign of the unstable situation in the area of ZNPP is that in recent days shelling has resumed in the vicinity of the plant, the IAEA team of experts said.

Russian troops seized the ZNPP, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, near the beginning of the full-scale war, on March 4. Employees of the plant are being held hostage and forced to work under incredibly high-pressure conditions. There are Russian military and employees of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear operator, at the plant.

Russian troops are known to have set up firing positions at the ZNPP and have regularly shelled Ukrainian cities from them. Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom has reported that the Russian military placed more than a dozen pieces of military equipment, including ammunition, weapons, and explosives in the turbine hall of the first reactor of the plant.

In total, more than 40 units of Russian military equipment have been placed on the grounds of the facility.

There are two representatives of the IAEA mission at ZNPP, and the agency plans to double this number. IAEA is also discussing the creation of a security zone around the nuclear facility.

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