Ukraine : Occupied nuclear plant cut off from grid

The final pair of working reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant have been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid, the state nuclear agency said.

Nearby fires apparently interfered with overhead power lines, disconnecting the now Russian-controlled site from the national grid for the first time ever.

The plant continues to be powered by a local thermal plant, Energoatom added.

It comes amid growing concern over fighting near the complex, which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe.

Fires at a nearby thermal plant interfered with overhead power lines, Ukraine’s state nuclear agency said on Thursday.

“As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network.”

Three alternative lines into the plant had already been damaged by Russian shelling, the agency claimed in a post on Telegram.

Local officials reported that nearby radiation levels were normal and that work was under way to reconnect the reactors to the grid.

Normally, the nuclear plant supplies one-fifth of Ukraine’s total electricity – so its continued disconnection from the national grid would cause serious challenges for Ukraine.

The nuclear site has been occupied by Russian military forces since early March but continues to be operated by Ukrainian nuclear technicians.

The Kremlin has signalled it will allow international inspectors to visit the complex – but until that happens it is difficult to verify what is happening on the ground.

According to Energoatom’s statement, the site continues to receive power from a backup line connected to a nearby thermal plant.

In recent days, the United Nations (UN)’s International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed its concern over ensuring the site remains connected to power for “nuclear safety” reasons.

Energy experts worry that some of the site’s safety mechanisms could fail if the complex loses all power.

Separately, local media is reporting that nearby towns have lost electricity supplies after Russian officials switched off power to many parts of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region.

The mayor of Enerhodar, which is located next to the nuclear plant, claimed on Thursday that the city had no power or water at all.

There were also reports of power cuts in the Russian-occupied cities of Melitopol and Kherson. -BBC

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