Power restored to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after outage

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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had external power restored Wednesday after an outage due to what Ukrainian officials say was a Russian rocket attack. Photo by Russian Emergencies Ministry/EPA-EFE

Oct. 12 (UPI) — Power to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been restored, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said Wednesday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement that power had been restored after shelling damage to a far-off sub-station caused an outage.

Earlier Grossi had said in a statement that it was the second time in five days that the plant, the largest in Europe, has lost all external power and was relying on generators to provide electricity for its nuclear safety and security functions.

“This repeated loss of [Zaporizhzhia]’s off-site power is a deeply worrying development and it underlines the urgent need for a nuclear safety & security protection zone around the site,” he said.

The announcement came as Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company, which oversees the Zaporizhzhia plant, confirmed in a statement that it was using generators but accused Russian forces of preventing a convoy of vehicles carrying diesel to reach the site.

“The occupiers continue to neglect the nuclear and radiation safety of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, threatening the world with a radiation disaster,” it said.

Russian forces have occupied the power plant since early March and have been accused by the Ukrainians of “nuclear blackmail.” Though some 500 Russian soldiers occupy the plant, it is manned by Ukrainian employees.

Amid the war, the plant has also been repeatedly damaged with each side blaming the other.

On Wednesday, Energoatom said the plant lost all external power and diesel generates automatically turned on after Russian rocket fire damaged one of its substations shortly before 9 a.m.

The officials said they then prepared and sent another batch of diesel fuel to the site but “as of 10 a.m., the Russian side does not allow the company’s convoy of vehicles to pass.”

“Russian shelling and damage to energy infrastructure related to the operation of nuclear power plants is the same manifestation of nuclear terrorism as direct shelling of the ZNPP, and leads to the same consequences and threats of a radiation accident,” it said.

In response, German Galushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, called on world leaders to sanction Russia’s nuclear industry.

“Russian nuclear roulette is once again testing the strength of our nuclear workers,” Galushchenko said in a statement published to Energoatom’s Telegram account. “The station is in blackout.”

He also called for world leaders, especially those in Europe, to seek the de-occupation and demilitarization of the plant in order to avoid a nuclear disaster.

Grossi and his IAEA have been calling for a safety zone to be put around the plant since they arrived there in early September.

On Tuesday, the leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations issued a statement that condemned Russia’s actions at the plant and “the pressure exerted on the personnel of the facility.”

“This is further irresponsible escalation and we will hold Russia responsible for any incident caused by their actions,” the nations said in a statement carried by the White House. “The safety, security and safeguards of the nuclear facility are paramount and we support the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts in this regard.”

The plant resides within one of the four regions that Russia is attempting to illegally annex from Ukraine.

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