Aug 25, 2022 - World

Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant reconnected to power grid

A Russian soldier near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in the town of Energodar in May 2022.

A Russian soldier near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in the town of Energodar in May 2022. Photo: Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was reconnected to the Ukrainian power grid after temporarily losing connection earlier on Thursday but "the situation remains very risky and dangerous," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address Friday.

The latest: "Any actions by Russia that could trigger the shutdown of the reactors will again put the plant one step away from disaster," Zelensky emphasized.

  • He again called on Russian troops to withdraw from the plant and neighboring area and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send a mission to inspect the plant as soon as possible. The agency has said a team will visit the plant next week to stabilize the nuclear and security situation.
  • That is why it is so important that the IAEA mission arrives at the plant as soon as possible and helps keep the NPP under continuous control of Ukraine. That is why it is so important that Russian troops withdraw from the plant and neighboring areas and that the threat of shelling of the plant itself or power lines connected to it disappears.
  • The IAEA said the plant lost connection to the power grid through its last remaining transmission line at least twice on Thursday, triggering the emergency protection systems of the plant's two operating reactor units.
  • Ukrainian officials told the IAEA that all six of the plant's reactor units remained disconnected from the grid even though the connection was restored.
  • "There was no information immediately available on the direct cause of the power cuts," the IAEA said.

Why it matters: Ukraine's state nuclear company had said Thursday morning that the nuclear power station was fully disconnected from Ukraine's power grid "for the first time in the history of the plant."

  • Energoatom said the final transmission line linking Zaporizhzhia's two operational reactors to the power grid "was cut-off twice" from "fires at ash pits" near the plant.
  • The plant, Europe's largest nuclear station, has been occupied by the Russian military since March but is still operated by its Ukrainian staff.
  • Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the plant had four transmission lines to the power grid, but three were lost earlier during the conflict.

What they're saying: “Almost every day there is a new incident at or near the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. We can’t afford to lose any more time," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement Thursday.

  • "I’m determined to personally lead an IAEA mission to the plant in the next few days to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation there," Grossi said.
  • While it was disconnected from Ukraine's grid, the plant still received power from another transmission line, Energoatom said. The IAEA said this line is linked to a thermal power facility that can provide back-up electricity to the plant if needed.
  • The IAEA also said the plant also has diesel generators available to provide back-up power if the line to the thermal facility is cut.
  • NetBlocks, a network disruptions and shutdowns observatory, confirmed Thursday that there was "a major disruption to communications at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant."

The big picture: Ukrainian officials warned last week the Russia was planning a "false flag" attack on the plant; Russia levied the same accusation against Ukraine.

  • The countries have also blamed each other for the shelling of areas around the plant.
  • Numerous countries and international organizations have condemned the recent military activity near Zaporizhzhia and have called on Russia to remove its military personnel and weaponry from the plant.
  • The IAEA said Grossi met with President Emmanuel Macron, who has recently attempted to organize an IAEA-led inspection team to Zaporizhzhia to
  • Macron's office said last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to allow the team to inspect the plant's condition.

Go deeper: The Ukraine war, six months on

Editor's note: This post was updated after the plant was reconnected to the power grid.

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