Shelling briefly knocks out power at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, disaster averted
Washington Edited By: C KrishnasaiUpdated: May 22, 2023, 08:35 PM IST
A view of a spent nuclear fuel storage grounds at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on March 29, 2023. Photograph:(AFP)
This is the seventh time that Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost electricity since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Emergency diesel generators were used at the plant in southern Ukraine to ensure that nuclear fuel was kept cool and to prevent a potential disaster
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, occupied by the Russian forces, was cut off briefly from the main electricity grid on Monday in the wake of the volatile situation arising out of constant bombardment.
Emergency diesel generators were used at the plant in southern Ukraine to ensure that nuclear fuel was kept cool and prevent a potential disaster.
The brief shutdown had cut off electricity to nearly 250,000 homes in the Zaporizhzhia region but that power had been restored to most of them, Ukrainian national grid operator Ukrenergo said
Power was also being restored to consumers in the Dnipropetrovsk region after overnight Russian air strikes, it added.
The nuclear plant, though under Russian occupation, is operated by Ukrainian engineers. According to reports, the generators have enough fuel to keep the critical cooling equipment running for 10 days.
This is the seventh time that Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost electricity since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
Ukraine’s possible counteroffensive holds military drills in Zaporizhzhia
However, each time, the Ukrainian engineers were able to restore electricity, thanks to the backup diesel generators, averting a possible catastrophe.
The latest blackout at the plant started at around 5:30 am (local time) on Monday, Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom said.
The facility lost its connection to a high-voltage power line from the nearby town of Dniprovska, the company said.
Russia, Ukraine trade blame
Both Russian and Ukraine sides accused each other of causing a potential nuclear disaster.
While a Russia-installed local official said that Ukraine disconnected a power line, Energoatom blamed the Russian shelling for the problem.
“Due to a high-tension line being cut, the plant lost its external electricity supply,” the Russian administration wrote on Telegram, adding the causes of the outage were being investigated and that backup diesel generators were keeping it working.
A few hours later, Energoatom said via the Telegram messaging app that it had restored external power and that the system was now running smoothly.
Potential nuclear disaster averted
The loss of power again stoked tensions about a potential nuclear disaster at the plant, with the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency raising alarm over Monday’s incident.
Rafael Mariano Grossi said the outage made the situation at the plant “extremely vulnerable.”
Shelling in Zaporizhzhia has increased over the past few days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his troops are preparing for a counteroffensive that could include the southern Ukraine region.
Grossi, who has been trying to win international backing for a demilitarized zone around the plant, said that fighting in the surrounding area increases the risks to the plant.