Blackout caused by new shelling near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant can lead to a nuclear catastrophe.
The U.N. atomic watchdog has warned that a blackout caused by additional shelling near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility has jeopardized the site’s safety, adding that the plant’s operator is considering shutting down the plant’s lone surviving reactor.
Credit: REUTERS; Alexander Ermochenko
“Shelling has caused a complete blackout in #Enerhodar and compromised the safe operation of the nearby #Zaporizhzhya NPP. This must stop & a Nuclear Safety & Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) agreed immediately. An NPP can never be a pawn of war.” This was Tweeted by the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, who called this a “dramatic development.”
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Europe’s largest. It was taken by Russian soldiers in March and has since been shelled, with Ukraine and Russia blaming each other for the attacks, heightening concerns of a nuclear tragedy.
Grossi said he found out about the shelling on Friday from IAEA personnel on the ground. According to him, the shelling of the switchyard at Enerhodar’s thermal power plant has resulted in a “total power blackout” in the city, which also houses the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Facility operators and those living in Enerhodar faced “increasingly terrible circumstances,” with a “significant danger” that necessary workers would no longer be available at the plant. Given the increasing and ongoing shelling, there was “limited possibility of re-establishing dependable offsite power,” he added.
The operator is now considering shutting down the last remaining operating reactor due to intense shelling. In recent days, the facility has depended on this reactor for the electricity it requires for cooling and other safety duties. If the reactor is to be shut down, the plant would solely rely on emergency diesel generators.
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