Threat to radiation safety: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant loses power supply due to damaged transmission line

Дата: 02 December 2023
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A break occurred in the 330 kV Zaporizhzhia Thermal Power Plant – Ferosplavna power transmission line on the evening of December 1, disrupting the power supply to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) from the Ukrainian power grid.

Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company, Energoatom, specified on Telegram that the last 750 kV ZNPP – Dniprovska line was severed at 02:31 during an air raid.

ZNPP switched to auxiliary power using diesel generators in response to the blackout.

Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s national energy company, reported that all 20 diesel generators were automatically activated, with eight of them remaining in operation.

“The biggest security threat in the mode exists at the power unit 4. This is because the occupiers used it in violation of the terms of the license to operate NPPs issued by the Ukrainian regulator and kept it in a hot shutdown state. The shutdown of the main circulation pumps that cool the reactor core leads to the transition of the reactor plant to natural circulation mode. This mode is difficult for the reactor unit. Its duration is limited by the design, and it can lead to the failure of the power unit’s main equipment. The unit needs to be urgently transferred to a cold state,” the Ukrenergo said in a statement.

Energoatom added that, thanks to the efforts of Ukrainian specialists, the connection of the ZNPP to the Ukrainian power grid was restored at 07:00 on December, 2, 2023.

On October, 26, 2023, the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the Russian drones flying over Ukraine on the night of October 24-25 targeted the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), where damage assessment is ongoing.

Iranian-designed Shahed drones struck the area around the power plant in the western Khmelnytsky region then. The attack injured 20 people and caused light damage, including broken windows.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the plant’s operations were unaffected.

“Powerful explosions shook an area near Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said. The blasts highlight “the dangers to nuclear safety” posed by the war, he added.

Kyiv accuses Russia of shelling the plant and risking a radiation leak, behavior it characterises as “nuclear terror”. No serious accident has occurred since the full-scale invasion last year, however.

Earlier, Zelenskyy said the attack in the Khmelnytsky region showed that Ukraine’s air defenses needed further support from international partners.

He added that Russian drones and missiles contained components originating from Western companies and countries, and the Khmelnytskyi strike showed “how dangerous it can be when Russia can bypass international sanctions”.

Earlier, the secretary of the Committee on Fuel Energy, Nuclear Policies and Security at International Center for Ukrainian Victory (ICUV) Viktoria Voitsitska called on international politicians and decision-makers to stop using the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an excuse to close their eyes towards Russian terrorism. Experts urge the international community to revise international safety regulations concerning handling nuclear facilities in case of capture by militaries.
Earlier at the international conference Global Crimea, Anton Korynevych, the ambassador-at-large of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called on countries from all continents to join the coalition in order to create a special tribunal for Russia.
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