Mar 13, 2022 - World

Power restored to Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine energy minister says

Chernobyl nuclear power plant
The new safe confinement seals off the object shelter, also known as the Sarcophagus, a temporary structure built in 1986 over the debris of the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Photo: Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Power has been restored to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine's minister of energy announced on Sunday.

Driving the news: Ukrainian Minister of Energy German Galushchenko said the plant's cooling system will operate normally once again, rather than from backup power.

  • The plant was disconnected from the power grid on Wednesday after a power line was damaged, leading to concerns that the cooling of the plant's radioactive material could be disrupted.
  • Chernobyl currently remains in Russian hands after troops seized the plant on Feb. 24, the first day of the invasion.

What they're saying: “This is a positive development as the Chornobyl NPP has had to rely on emergency diesel generators for several days now," director general Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a press release Sunday.

  • He added: "However, I remain gravely concerned about safety and security at Chornobyl and Ukraine’s other nuclear facilities.”
  • Grossi said the IAEA was also informed by the Ukrainian regulator on Sunday that the staff at Chernobyl are no longer carrying out repair and maintenance of safety-related equipment due to physical and psychological fatigue.
  • He said the situation "added further urgency to an IAEA initiative aimed at ensuring safety and security at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants." Grossi has proposed a framework that would allow the IAEA to deliver technical and other assistance to help operate Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

The big picture: The plant was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986 when one of its reactors exploded, causing radioactivity to spread through the wind over Europe.

What's next: Galushchenko appealed to the European Commission, IAEA, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to help Ukraine protect its nuclear facilities.

  • He asked the various organizations to force Russia to leave the plant and establish a 30 kilometer demilitarized zone around Ukraine's nuclear facilities.
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