Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that a backup power line between the country’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and a nearby thermal power station was deliberately disconnected today in order to extinguish a fire, but the line itself was not damaged. The ZNPP continues to receive the electricity it needs for safety from its sole operating reactor.
After the ZNPP’s connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolts (kV) line was lost late on Friday, the 330 kV reserve line had been used to deliver electricity from the ZNPP to the grid. Ukraine informed IAEA that this backup line will be reconnected once the fire has been extinguished.
One of the ZNPP’s six reactors continues to produce the electricity the plant requires for cooling and other nuclear safety functions. The reactor will be connected to the grid when the 330 kV line is switched on again.
Also today, four IAEA experts left the ZNPP as planned after several days of essential nuclear safety, security and safeguards work. Two others are staying to maintain a continuing IAEA presence at the site, enabling the Agency to observe the situation there and provide independent assessments.
The six experts arrived at the ZNPP on 1 September as part of a team led by Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi that crossed the frontline to establish the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) at the plant in southern Ukraine. The ZNPP is held by Russian forces since early March, but its Ukrainian staff is continuing to operate the plant.
The IAEA experts on the ground have been assessing the physical damage at the ZNPP, determining the functionality of the main and backup nuclear safety and security systems, and evaluating the staff’s working conditions as well as the plant’s current emergency response capacities, among other important activities. Over the past few days, safeguards inspectors have also performed urgent safeguards activities on the site.
The plant’s Ukrainian staff told the IAEA experts today that they plan to repair the 750 kV line that went down on Friday but that it would take several days to do so.
A secure off-site power supply from the grid and backup power supply systems are essential for ensuring nuclear safety. This requirement is among the seven indispensable nuclear safety and security pillars that the Director General outlined at the beginning of the conflict.
Over the past month, there have been numerous shelling incidents at or near the ZNPP, causing damage at the facility and raising widespread concern about the risk of a severe nuclear accident potentially jeopardizing human health and the environment. Shelling at the ZNPP on 1 September damaged an oil tank containing turbine lubrication oil, and there was renewed shelling today.
Director General Grossi will on Tuesday issue a report about the nuclear safety, security, and safeguards situation in Ukraine – including the findings from the mission to the ZNPP – and later the same day brief the United Nations Security Council about the mission to the plant.