Ukraine nuclear plant loses external power amid ongoing shelling

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has lost its last remaining external power sources amid renewed shelling and now relies on emergency generators for “essential nuclear safety and security functions,” the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said on Saturday.

The 750 kilovolt (kV) power line supplying energy to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was cut at around 1 a.m. local time because of continued attacks, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Saturday.

“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.

The site is now relying on emergency diesel generators to provide cooling and safety operations for Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear reactors. The IAEA says that each of the plant’s six diesel generators in use has sufficient fuel for at least 10 days.

In the meantime, Zaporizhzhia engineers have begun work to repair the damaged 750 kV power line.    

Grossi added that he would “soon” travel to Russia in a bid to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant, something the IAEA has been calling for since early September when the site was cut off from external electricity supplies.

“This is an absolute and urgent imperative,” Grossi said.

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