IAEA Officials Have Warned That Conditions At Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Are ‘Unsustainable’

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility is struggling for survival daily. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is becoming “increasingly precarious,” according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after shelling caused a total blackout in the neighboring city of Enerhodar.

According to Xinhua, the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief said in a statement on Friday that the shelling of the switchyard at the thermal power plant in Enerhodar, home to the Zaporizhzhia facility’s operators and their families, has destroyed the city’s electrical infrastructure and resulted in a total blackout.

“Given the increased and continued shelling, there is little likelihood of re-establishing reliable offsite power” to the plant, Grossi said.

He stated that the operator of the Zaporizhzhia plant is considering shutting down the facility’s only operational reactor, leaving the station utterly reliant on emergency diesel generators to ensure essential nuclear safety and security duties.

Grossi also stated that the increasingly difficult situation at Enerhodar may have an influence on the availability of critical personnel at the nuclear plant. He restated his appeal for an abrupt halt to shelling near the plant and the creation of a “nuclear safety and security protection zone.”

“This is the only way to ensure that we do not face a nuclear accident,” he warned.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a fire started by Russian shelling that destroyed the plant’s final functional power line linking it to the grid caused the nuclear reactor to be shut down on August 25 for the first time in its four-decade history.

Enerhoatom charged Russia on August 26 with severing three additional power lines connected to the Zaporizhzhya complex. Fourteen hours later, engineers were able to fix the line, but in the meanwhile, the facility had to rely on backup diesel generators.

However, the situation has escalated, and various cables have been severed once more. While the plant remains operating, it is again reliant on the reserve diesel system, which is especially dangerous in a war zone when access to fuel and other supplies might be limited.

Zaporizhzhia, one of Europe’s largest nuclear power facilities, has been under Russian hands since early March, with Ukrainian personnel continuing to manage it. Experts say the plant’s fate — whether it safely shuts down or becomes the next nuclear disaster — is a hostage to war and is largely in the hands of its Russian invaders.

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