Aug 25, 2022 - World

Near miss on nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia plant, Zelensky says

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday evening that there was nearly a "radiation accident" when Europe's largest nuclear power plant was temporarily disconnected from the electric grid.

How it happened: Ukraine's state nuclear company said Thursday morning that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station had lost its connection to Ukraine's power grid "for the first time in the history of the plant." Fires had damaged power lines outside the station.

  • Zelensky blamed Russian shelling, while Russia blamed Ukraine. Power outages were reported in the region.
  • "If the diesel generators hadn't turned on, if the automation and our staff of the plant had not reacted after the blackout, then we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of the radiation accident," Zelensky said.
  • The UN's nuclear watchdog is desperate to gain access to the plant. "Almost every day there is a new incident at or near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We can't afford to lose any more time," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement.
  • Flashback: Russia occupied Zaporizhzhia early in the war and forced Ukrainian workers at the plant to keep it operating.

What to watch: The plant supplies one-fifth of Ukraine's electricity, but U.S. and Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia might try to redirect the electricity to Russia’s own electric grid.

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