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Kakhovka hydropower plant attack: what we know so far

During the night of the 5 June, Russia carried out an internal explosion of the structures of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant (HPP), in Ukraine.

“The destruction of the plant endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” read the statement of Ukrhydroenergo, the largest hydropower generating company in the country and operator of the plant. “The blowing up of the plant and dam is another act of terrorism by the Russian army. The destruction of the hydroelectric power plant is considered a violation of the Geneva Convention.”

Source: Ukrhydroenergo.

Russian troops have occupied Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant since last year. In October 2022, the company filed a lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Russia to recover damages, estimating losses at 17 billion hryvnia (431 million euros).

The Minister of Energy Herman Galushchenko held a high-level meeting informing that the power plant is completely destroyed and it is not a matter of reconstruction anymore.

“We expect the flooding of 80 settlements, the evacuation of the population is currently underway and all possible measures are being taken to protect people,” he said. 

The Minister especially emphasised the risks for nuclear and radiation safety, because the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) gets its cooling water from the reservoir. He added that the NPP is not at immediate risk, but the level of the water it uses to cool its turbines is dropping. Therefore, the Minister is urging the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose experts are present at the plant, to put pressure on the Russians so that they do not create unnecessary risks.

“The demilitarisation of the station is the only possible scenario that must be implemented if the world wants to avoid a nuclear disaster,” emphasised Mr Galushchenko. 

The Minister also noted that the disaster at the Kakhovka HPP will affect the water level at other Ukrainian hydroelectric power stations, which may cause an imbalance in the energy system. 

“In this regard, we count on the support of our partners and a consequent increase of electricity imports up to 2 gigawatts (GW),” Mr Galushchenko said. 

European Commissioner Kadri Simson reiterated the EU support especially in increasing electricity imports, as well as pressure on Russia. Also, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm condemns the attack which she defined as “an unfolding humanitarian tragedy, including to Ukraine’s energy security.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy is also initiating an appeal to the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA) to expel Russia from the organisation.

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