IAEA chief ‘gravely concerned’ over situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility

IAEA chief ‘gravely concerned’ over situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility

Politico reports:

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine again lost connection to its main external power line but remains connected to a reserve line, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said late Saturday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its experts were told by Ukrainian staff at the nuclear facility that the plant’s fourth operational power line was down. The three other power lines “were damaged during Russian shelling earlier,” Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said last month.

The disconnection of the fourth power line “followed renewed shelling in the area, Ukraine separately informed the IAEA,” the agency said in a statement on its website. A similar disconnection occurred temporarily on August 25, it said.

The power plant — which has six reactors — was seized by Russian troops in March, but its daily operation has remained in the hands of Ukrainian staff. Only one of the reactors is still operating, the IAEA said on Saturday.

The nuclear watchdog this week established a “permanent presence” at the Zaporizhzhia site, Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Friday.

In Saturday’s IAEA statement, Grossi called it “a game changer” to have agency experts on the ground at the facility. “We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid. This is crucial information in assessing the overall situation there,” Grossi said.

The IAEA said there had been “continued shelling of the site” in the past week. [Continue reading…]

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