The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has again lost connection to its main external power line but remains connected to a reserve line, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its experts were told by Ukrainian staff at the nuclear facility that the plant’s fourth operational power line had failed. The other three power lines “were damaged in previous Russian bombardments,” Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said last month.
The disconnection of the fourth power line “follows new bombardments in the region, Ukraine has separately informed the IAEA,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website. A similar disconnect occurred temporarily on August 25, he said.
The plant – which has six reactors – was seized by Russian troops in March, but its day-to-day operation has remained in the hands of Ukrainian personnel. Only one of the reactors is still in operation, the IAEA announced on Saturday.
The nuclear watchdog established a “permanent presence” at the site of Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, this week, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Friday.
In Saturday’s IAEA statement, Grossi called it a “game changer” to have agency experts on the ground at the facility. “We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the backup power line to connect the facility to the grid. This is crucial information to assess the overall situation there,” Grossi said.
The IAEA said there had been “continuous shelling of the site” over the past week.
“There was damage to the facility’s solid radioactive waste storage, the Special Building 1 vent pipe, and the…training building,” according to the agency’s statement.
“I remain gravely concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – it has not changed – but the continued presence of the IAEA will be of paramount importance in helping to stabilize the situation,” Grossi said in the statement.
Grossi plans to debrief the UN Security Council on the Zaporizhzhia mission on Tuesday. It will also issue a report early next week on the safety, security and safeguards situation at the nuclear facility, the IAEA said.