Things have gone from bad to worse at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with the looming scenario of much of Ukraine facing a giant blackout.
“The last two working reactors at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were disconnected from Ukraine’s electricity grid on Thursday after nearby fires damaged overhead power lines, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said,” Reuters reports, further giving subsequent confirmation that the whole power plant has been disconnected from the power grid Thursday for the first time in its history.
The connectivity monitoring group NetBlocks is also confirming a major disruption to all communications at the plant following Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom announcing its been completely disconnected from the power grid.
Reportedly the disconnection was due to fires as nearby ash pits, which Energoatom in its statement blamed on Russian forces: “The actions of the invaders caused a complete disconnection of the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant) from the power grid – the first in the history of the plant,” it wrote.
But in follow-up, the Russian-installed regional governor announced that “at the moment, the power supply to all cities and districts of the Zaporizhzhia region has been restored” following the disruptions, suggesting that there was a major temporary power outage across the region. It appears the power supply disruption was temporary:
IAEA SAYS UKRAINE TOLD IT THAT ZAPORIZHZHIA AT LEAST TWICE LOST CONNECTION TO THE POWER LINE DURING THE DAY BUT THAT IT WAS CURRENTLY UP AGAIN
According to further statements being reported by CNN:
In a separate statement, Ukraine’s State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation, which cited the nuclear operator Energoatom, said a power line from the plant was disconnected due to hostilities in the area.
As a result, one of the nuclear power units at the plant had also been disconnected, it said.
Among the Zaporizhzhia plant’s six reactors, only two are currently said to be operational. All of this comes amid a backdrop of negotiations for an IAEA emergency team to visit the complex.
The NPP has been completely disconnected from the grid for the first time in history per Energoatom.
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) August 25, 2022
While Russian President Putin said he has approved such a UN-IAEA visit, it’s yet to get off the ground. The latest statement from the nuclear inspection watchdog indicated the trip could come in “days”.
“I’m continuing to consult very actively and intensively with all parties,” IAEA chief Rafael Grossi had said Tuesday. “The mission (to Zaporizhzhia) is expected to take place within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed.”
The greatest of all fears has been a ‘Chernobyl-style’ meltdown or event given for weeks there’s been active fighting and the site and shelling on sensitive parts of the facility, including which has in recent days taken out transformers.
Meanwhile, fears of larger blackouts as a result of these events and destabilization in Zaporizhzhia’s operations loom…
⚡️Mayor: Russian shelling leads to blackout in town hosting Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
According to Mayor Dmytro Orlov, there is no running water in the Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 25, 2022