Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant Reactor Number 2 on September 2, 2022.
Source – IAEA Imagebank, CC SA 2.0.
The final working reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was disconnected from Ukraine’s grid on Monday after Russian shelling disrupted power lines.
The imperilled six-reactor facility in southern Ukraine, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was captured by Moscow in March, but is still run by Ukrainian staff, according to Reuters.
“Today, as a result of a fire caused by shelling, the (last working) transmission line was disconnected,” Energoatom said in a statement on Telegram.
“As a result, (reactor) unit No. 6, which currently supplies the (plant’s) own needs, was unloaded and disconnected from the grid,” it said.
“The last [power] line connecting Zaporizhzhia NPP with Ukraine’s energy system – 330 kW Zaporizhzhia TPP-Ferosplavna power transmission line – has been disconnected due to a fire caused by shelling. Any repairs to the [power] lines are now impossible – hostilities are underway around the plant,” Galushchenko wrote.
Galushchenko complained that the fresh shelling had hit soon after most of the inspectors from a mission by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, left the plant earlier on Monday.
The New York Times is reporting that the situation on the groyund is made even more perilous because firefighting crews have been unable to reach the site of the blaze.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection team that had been at the plant left two monitors behind in the hopes that they could bear witness to events as they unfold and ease tensions at the facility, which is held by Russian forces but is still run by Ukrainian engineers. The larger hope had been that the shelling would stop.
The IAEA said that, according to Ukrainian officials, the reserve line had been “deliberately disconnected in order to extinguish a fire.”
“The line itself is not damaged, and it will be reconnected once the fire is extinguished,” the agency said.
Edwin Lyman, a nuclear power expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private group in Cambridge, Mass., said the current situation — in which the plant is relying on one of its own reactors to supply power to cooling systems — was “not unique, but it’s not standard practice.”
Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southern California, said the loss of offsite power — which has happened at the Zaporizhzhia plant at least twice in the last few weeks — was “one of the most dreadful events that could happen to a nuclear plant.”