On Saturday, Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant lost its main connection to the power grid again despite the presence of international inspectors.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which is operated by a Ukrainian workforce but held by Russian forces, has lost its main power line. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived at the site Thursday despite concerns about constant shelling in the area. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the repeated artillery fire. IAEA experts at the facility were informed by senior Ukrainian staff on Saturday that its fourth operational 750 kv power line was down. Three others were previously lost. However, a reserve line links the facility to a nearby thermal power plant which is delivering electricity to the external grid. It can also provide back-up power to the plant if required. The plant was previously temporarily disconnected from the main power line on August 25.
The nuclear power plant’s management also informed the IAEA team that reactor number five had been disconnected on Saturday afternoon due to grid restrictions. On Thursday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited the site and found that reactor five had been disconnected because of an internal electrical failure and was reconnected again Friday after being repaired. The plant has six reactors, only two of which are functioning. One reactor is still in operation, producing electricity for other essential safety functions and for households, factories and others on the grid.
The International Atomic Energy Agency team called its presence at the facility “a game changer” in a statement Saturday. The agency received direct, fast and reliable information about the latest significant development affecting the plant’s external power situation, as well as the operational status of the reactors, said Director General Yukiya Amano in the statement. The IAEA already has a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid—critical information in assessing the overall situation there. The IAEA plans to produce a report “early next week” to address the status of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After visiting Fukushima on Thursday, six members of an IAEA team stayed behind to continue their work; two are expected to remain permanently as part of an effort for greater oversight at Fukushima Daiichi that could help stave off disaster.