Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was once again disconnected from the power grid following the shutdown of reactor No. 5 on Sept. 3, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tweeted.
“Zaporizhzhya NPP again lost connection to its last remaining main external power line, but the plant continues to supply electricity to the grid through a reserve line, IAEA was told at the site today, less than 48 hours after (IAEA Director General) Rafael Grossi established the presence of the IAEA at the site,” the agency tweeted.
Shortly after setting up their presence, the agency’s experts were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the ZNPP’s fourth operational 750 Kilovolt (kV) power line was down.
The three others were lost earlier during the Russian war against Ukraine.
However, the IAEA experts at the plant also learned that the 330/750 kV reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the ZNPP generates to the external grid. The same reserve line can also provide backup power to the ZNPP if needed.
“In addition, plant management informed the IAEA team that one of the ZNPP’s two operating reactors was disconnected in the afternoon today due to grid restrictions,” read the statement.
“The same reactor No. 5 was also disconnected Sept. 1, the day of Director General Grossi’s arrival at the site, due to an internal electrical failure, but it was reconnected the following day.”
It is noted that one reactor (No. 6) is still operating and producing electricity both for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site, and for households, factories, and other facilities serviced by the grid.
The IAEA has stressed that a secure off-site power supply from the grid and backup power supply systems are essential for ensuring nuclear safety.
In turn, IAEA Director General Grossi noted the “great value” of finally having an IAEA team permanently present at the ZNPP.
“It’s a game changer,” he stated bluntly.
“The difference between having the IAEA at the site and not having us there is like day and night. I remain gravely concerned about the situation at the ZNPP – this hasn’t changed – but the continued presence of the IAEA will be of paramount importance in helping to stabilize the situation.”
Grossi said he would issue a report in the coming days about the safety, security, and safeguards relating to the situation in Ukraine, referencing the findings from his mission to the ZNPP.
Reactor No. 5 was last taken offline after a Russian mortar attack hit the power plant’s backup power lines. It was the second such incident in 10 days.
The reactor was brought back online, and reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid on Sept. 2.
Additional information coming from the power plant, provided by the Russian independent news outlet The Insider, shows a video, shot overnight on Sept. 3, indicating the Russian invaders were using multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from the territory of the ZNPP.
Footage showing that the MLRS were deployed in close proximity to the reactor.
According to an analysis by the Conflict Intelligence Team, the footage revealed pipes from the ZNPP, with the video directed from the opposite bank of the Dnipro River, and a CCTV camera directed to the south.
The conclusion of this arrangement means that the Russian launch site is located to the west of the Zaporizhzhya Thermal Power Plant (ZTPP). It is unknown at this time if rockets have been launched from the premises.
The ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and has been illegally occupied by Russian forces since March 4. The station’s Ukrainian employees are currently being held captive by invading Russian forces.
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.
The invaders brought additional armored personnel carriers and special trucks to the repair area of the station on Aug. 22.
In total, more than 40 units of Russian military equipment have been placed on the grounds of the facility.