The UN’s nuclear watchdog condemned new shelling near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which just disconnected the plant from Ukraine’s power grid, according to its operator.
The resumed shelling is “tremendously irresponsible,” International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Saturday in a press release.
The last power line connecting the plant to Ukraine’s power grid was damaged and disconnected Saturday due to attacks by Russian forces, according to the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom. The plant is now relying on diesel generators.
“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant must be protected,” Grossi said on Saturday.
“All the plant’s safety systems continue to receive power and are operating normally, the IAEA experts were informed by senior Ukrainian operating staff at the site,” he added in the release.
“Although the six reactors are in cold shutdown, they still require electricity for vital nuclear safety and security functions. The plant’s diesel generators each have sufficient fuel for at least ten days. ZNPP engineers have begun work to repair the damaged 750 kV power line,” according to the release.
Grossi stressed that the plant “must be protected” and added that he will “soon travel to the Russian Federation, and then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative.”
What Russian officials say: The plant can be put back into operation, said Vladimir Rogov, who is a senior pro-Russian official in the regional Zaporizhzhia government.
“Now the nuclear power plant has been switched back to the emergency mode of operation. The last power line that connected it with the right bank, with the territories controlled by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s regime, has been cut. For now, the nuclear power plant can only be powered by diesel generators, and this is an unusual means,” Rogov said while speaking to the pro-Kremlin “Soloviev Live” show on Saturday.
“We have every possibility to restore the nuclear power plant and put it into operation,” he added.