Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant is cut off energy grid

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Kiev, Ukraine – Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant was cut off from the country’s electricity grid, causing a massive power outage in the neighboring area after fires damaged the last functioning transmission line, the Ukrainian nuclear power company said Thursday.

The incident renewed security fears at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is also Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and is located in an area now occupied by invading Russian forces.

Fighting near the plant has sparked acute concerns about a potential catastrophe and calls from many world leaders for UN nuclear experts to visit the site.

Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed each other for shelling the factory, which they said had led to the disconnection of the electricity grid – the first time it had been cut off. Officials, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have warned that such a shutdown could itself create an extremely dangerous situation by disrupting normal operation of the plant and potentially making it difficult to cool the reactors.

“The invaders’ actions caused a complete disconnection of the ZNPP from the power grid – for the first time in the plant’s history,” Ukraine’s nuclear power company, Energoatom, said in a statement.

On Thursday morning, the mayor of Enerhodar, where the factory is located, said the city was “on the brink of humanitarian disaster” as shelling left it without electricity or water. He later said officials were working to restore power in the city.

The Russian-installed “governor” of the occupied region, Yevhen Balytskyi, blamed the Ukrainian military for the power outages, a charge echoed by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which said shelling by Ukrainian troops had short-circuited a network. , resulting in “a power outage. in the Zaporizhzhya region.”

Inside the conquered nuclear power plant of Ukraine, explosions and constant fear

The nuclear power plant is now powered by a neighboring geothermal plant and Enerhodar, under Russian control, is expected to regain its power in a few hours, a spokesman for energy company Energoatom said.

Ukrainian factory workers have continued to keep the nuclear site operational while under the control of the occupying authorities.

The Zaporizhzhya plant is an important source of energy for Ukraine. Before the Russian invasion on February 24, it supplied one-fifth of Ukraine’s electricity and nearly half of its nuclear power.

US Secretary of State Bonnie Jenkins, a senior official responsible for arms control and international security, said in a briefing with reporters on Thursday that she was aware of reports of a power outage but could not independently confirm it.

Jenkins renewed the call for the Russian military to leave the factory and allow international nuclear experts to visit, saying a power outage could have an “immediate impact” for the citizens of Ukraine.

In a statement, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said the plant had lost power twice during the day, but was currently back on.

Grossi said the incident further underscored the “urgent need for an IAEA expert mission to travel to the facility” and that he was willing to go there himself in the coming days.

“Almost every day there is a new incident at or near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant,” he said. “We cannot afford to lose any more time. I am committed to personally lead an IAEA mission to the plant in the coming days to help stabilize nuclear safety and security there,” he said.

Zelensky on Tuesday called for international pressure to force occupying Russian forces to leave the factory and the surrounding area. “We have to pressure Russia, give them an ultimatum from the international community that they have to leave,” Zelensky said, adding: “This is dangerous for the whole world.”

Experts are struggling to understand whether the damage at the plant was due to deliberate sabotage or perhaps the mistake of soldiers in the area, but the experts said having IAEA inspectors on site would improve the situation.

“The IAEA can at least assess the security of the plant,” said Jon Wolfsthal, a former senior director for arms control and non-proliferation at the US National Security Council during the Obama administration.

“It can determine whether or not there is damage to the reactor envelope,” Wolfsthal said. “It can determine whether the backup safety systems are online and working. It can provide the Ukrainians and the Russians and the nearby population, and the rest of Europe, with the assurance that there are still multiple backup systems or warn the world if they are systems are not present.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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