Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) suffered a complete loss of external power for 11 hours today, forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions in the latest incident underlining the urgent need to protect Europe’s largest such facility, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
The ZNPP lost all off-site electricity around 5am local time at the site when its last remaining 750 kilovolt (kV) line was disconnected following reports of missile strikes across Ukraine, the sixth time the plant has been running on emergency diesel generators during the ongoing military conflict in the country, Director General Grossi told the IAEA Board of Governors earlier today.
Several hours later, at around 4pm local time, the 750 kV power line – the only one still in operation out of four before the conflict – was again re-connected to the ZNPP and the emergency diesel generators could be switched off, the IAEA team of experts present at the plant reported to IAEA headquarters. The two units that had been in hot shutdown prior to the loss of external power were being returned back to that state.
“Today’s loss of all external power once again demonstrated how fragile and dangerous the situation is for the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” Director General Grossi said. “That very much remains the case, also after the 750 kilovolt line was reconnected yet again. Experience tells us that this will most likely happen again, and again, unless we do something to prevent it.”
He earlier told the Board that the current situation was untenable: “Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out.”
Director General Grossi said action was needed now to commit to protect the nuclear safety and security of the plant and he would continue his urgent consultations and contacts.
Further underlining the precarious nuclear safety and security situation at the ZNPP, the IAEA team at the plant said strong shelling was heard in the afternoon, the latest indication of increased military activities in the region.
In the last two weeks, the IAEA arranged three deliveries of equipment to Ukraine as part of the overall efforts to organize technical support and assistance to the country in nuclear safety and security. The Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the State Regulatory Body, the South Ukraine NPP and the State Register of Ionizing Radiation Sources and Individual Radiation Doses received personal protective suits, respiratory masks, potassium iodine pills, dosimeters as well as IT equipment donated from Canada and Switzerland.