Zaporizhzhia reconnected, but 'it can’t go on like this', says IAEA

07 November 2022

Power supplies were reconnected to Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after two days of relying on emergency diesel generators, but International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says a safety zone around the plant must be established "before it is too late".

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (Image: IAEA)

External power connections to the six reactor plant was lost in the evening of 2 November, with the 750 kV line and a 330 kV line repaired and reconnected 48 hours later. The eight emergency generators were turned off and put back into standby mode, IAEA staff stationed at the plant reported.

Although all six reactors are currently shutdown, the plant still needs electricity supplies for cooling and other safety and security functions.

The emergency generators normally have about 15 days worth of fuel, and the IAEA says supplies have been delivered to the site with the aim of refilling the tanks.

Four of the reactors are in cold shutdown, with units 5 and 6 in "semi-hot shutdown providing steam to the site and arrangements are being made to further heat-up both units to a hot shutdown state".

Grossi said: "The repeated power outages all too clearly demonstrate the extremely serious nuclear safety and security situation this major nuclear power plant is facing. So far, the brave staff … have always managed to maintain the safe operation of the six units. But it can’t go on like this. I have repeatedly called for the urgent establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to prevent a nuclear accident. We can’t afford to lose any more time. We must act before it is too late."

The IAEA director general has held talks with both sides in the war and says that both agree with the idea of the zone, with discussion now focused on the parameters of the zone and how it will operate. Both sides blame the other for the shelling and the loss of electricity supply to the plant, which has happened a few times during the past few months. In this case, the damage to the power lines occurred about 50-60 km from the plant in Ukrainian controlled territory.

The foreign ministers of the G7 nations - the USA, Canada, UK, Japan, France, Italy, Germany - issued a joint statement condemning "Russia’s continued seizure and militarisation" of the plant "and the willful destabilisation of its operations". The Russian side meanwhile said Ukraine had disconnected the power lines, with the Tass news agency quoting Rosenergoatom's Renat Karchaa as saying this meant that the two reactors which had been able to provide heat energy for residents in Energodar had to be transferred to cold shutdown.

Meanwhile Ukraine’s energy giant Energoatom says it has been asked by the country’s nuclear regulator to analyse the potential impact if there is damage to the Kakhovskaya hydropower dam, which could lead to a drop in the water level of the Kakhov reservoir, which supplies cooling water for the Zaporizhzhia plant. It has been asked to submit its results by Wednesday.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News