Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is threatened by shelling, UN warns

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Ukraine Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has again lost access to the electricity grid after shelling destroyed the electricity infrastructure of the neighboring city, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday.

The ZNPP has lost power grid at least twice since the Russian invasion in February, but IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi warned that the plant’s operators will not be able to safely reconnect the reactors to the power source this time.

The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, the mission leader, the center and IAEA members will inspect the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, southeastern Ukraine, on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
(Press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense via AP)

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“Enerhodar has gone dark,” Grossi said in a grim warning. “The energy infrastructure that powers the city of Enerhodar, home to the nuclear plant operators and their families, has been destroyed by shelling.”

The director general, who left the ZNPP after a fact-finding mission earlier this week, said shelling at the city’s thermal power plant destroyed the “switchyard” and caused a complete power outage, leave the city without water, electricity or sewage.

“Given the increased and ongoing shelling, there is little chance of restoring reliable offsite power to the ZNPP, especially as the shelling continues to and repeatedly damage the energy infrastructure,” he added.

If workers evacuate, the factory could become understaffed, Grossi warned.

Grossi this week urged immediate steps to secure the factory, and international officials have called for the complete demilitarization of the factory, which Russia has occupied since March 3, although it is still operated by Ukrainian technicians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy has called on the UN to send peacekeepers to help secure the area, as officials repeatedly warn that the consequences of an attack on the ZNPP could be more devastating than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

UN vehicles carrying members of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection mission drive on a road outside the city of Zaporizhzhya after visiting the Russian-operated Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on September 1, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

UN vehicles carrying members of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection mission drive on a road outside the city of Zaporizhzhya after visiting the Russian-operated Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on September 1, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(GENIA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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It’s unclear what the UN’s response to the increased threat at the plant will be and Fox News could immediately reach the UN for comment.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on Russia to remove its troops and military equipment from the nuclear power plant and to promise Ukraine that it would not withdraw its troops after that.

Operators of the ZNPP are considering closing the only reactor still running at the power plant because it cannot guarantee a reliable source of energy, Grossi said.

“The entire power plant would then be completely dependent on emergency diesel generators for ensuring vital nuclear safety and security functions,” he added.

But it’s not just the unreliable source of energy that nuclear officials are concerned about.

Factory workers may try to evacuate the area with their families as the situation becomes more dire.

A view shows the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant during the Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhya region, Ukraine, August 30, 2022.

A view shows the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant during the Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhya region, Ukraine, August 30, 2022.
(REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

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“This is an untenable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious,” Grossi warned. “This is completely unacceptable. It cannot stand.”

Grossi called for an immediate end to all shelling and the establishment of a nuclear safety and security zone.

Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the nuclear power plant.



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