Ukrainian engineers restored external power to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) on Sunday (9 October), a day after the facility lost the connection to its last remaining operating power line due to shelling, said Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The plant’s six reactors are in a cold shutdown but still require power for cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions.
After the repair work was successfully completed, the 750 kilovolts (kV) line was reconnected to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on Sunday evening, enabling it to start switching off the emergency diesel generators that had provided it with backup electricity since the connection was cut on Saturday.
Director General Grossi, who received news about the restored off-site power from the team of IAEA nuclear safety, security and safeguards experts present at the plant site, said it was a much-needed development but that the power situation at the ZNPP remained fragile.
The Director General also condemned military attacks in areas that could affect the safety and security of the NPP, including in the cities of Enerhodar and Zaporizhzhia.
“Almost every day now, there is shelling in the region where the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is located and where the plant workers and their families live. The shelling must stop, immediately. It is already having an impact on the nuclear safety and security situation at the plant,” Mr Grossi said.
In recent days, there has been frequent shelling in an industrial area between the ZNPP and Enerhodar.
There have also been missile strikes further away, including the tragic strike in the city of Zaporizhzhia. A convoy of five trucks carrying vital additional diesel fuel supplies for the ZNPP is currently in the city, planning to cross the frontline to reach the plant today, senior Ukrainian operating staff told the IAEA experts at the site. The site’s current diesel reserves are estimated to last for 10 days.
“These military attacks in Zaporizhzhia and its vicinity increase the risk of a nuclear accident, if they hit the plant’s external power lines or make it more difficult to deliver vital supplies of fuel and equipment,” Director General Grossi said.
On Sunday, a landmine also exploded outside of the nuclear power plant’s perimeter fence, the latest in a series of such blasts over the past few weeks.
Last month, the final working reactor at the site was disconnected from the power grid due to Russian shelling which damaged and disrupted the country’s power lines.