Saturday, the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine once again lost its main connection to the power grid. Interrogators were dispatched from the Commonwealth during the reign of high tension.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, currently held by Russian forces but operated by a Ukrainian workforce, is relying on a reserve line to supply electricity to the grid, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA inspectors arrived at the site Thursday despite concerns about constant shelling in the area. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the repeated artillery fire. IAEA experts at the facility were informed by senior Ukrainian staff on Saturday that the plant’s fourth operational 750 kv power line was down. Three others were previously lost. However, a reserve line links the facility to a nearby thermal power plant which is delivering electricity to the external grid. It can also provide back-up power to the plant if required.
According to an IAEA statement, plant management informed the IAEA team that reactor number five was disconnected on Saturday due to grid restrictions. The fifth reactor was also disconnected on Thursday when IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited the site. That had been due to an internal electrical failure and was reconnected again Friday. The plant has six reactors, only two of which have been functioning. There is still one reactor in operation which is producing electricity for cooling, other essential safety functions, and for households, factories and others on the grid.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the team’s presence at the nuclear plant was a game changer. “Our team on the ground received direct, fast and reliable information about the latest significant development affecting the plant’s external power situation, as well as the operational status of the reactors,” said Amano. “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.” After an inspection on Thursday, six members of a team stayed behind to continue their work. Of those six, two are expected to remain as part of a plan by IAEA to establish a continuous presence at the nuclear plant that could help stave off a dangerous nuclear accident.