Zaporizhzhia Power Plant Forced Offline, As The IAEA Team Reports Risks
ZAPORIZHZHIA - One day after a visit by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) team, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was forced offline after an artillery shell fell between two reactors, damaging the main power line on Saturday morning, September 3rd.
The IAEA Website stated, "Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has once again lost the connection to its last remaining main external power line, but the facility is continuing to supply electricity to the grid through a reserve line, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed at the site today."
It also said that "Less than 48 hours after Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on Thursday established the presence of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) at the facility in southern Ukraine, the Agency’s experts were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the ZNPP’s fourth operational 750 Kilovolt (kV) power line was down. The three others were lost earlier during the conflict."
And added, "IAEA experts – now present at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in the middle of a war zone – also learned that the 330/750 kV reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the ZNPP generates to the external grid. The same reserve line can also provide backup power to the ZNPP if needed."
Locally installed Russian authorities claimed that the main power line is deep inside the premises of the ZNPP, and the power plant is now only servicing its own required energy, claiming that the main power line had been destroyed after being under fire for around two hours.
AP News says the plant has been completely severed from the Ukrainian power grid multiple times in the past week, as Russia and Ukraine trade blame over mortar fire around the site.
As the IAEA team was visiting the plant on September 2nd, an automatic reactor shutdown by safety systems following 13 hours of shelling. The IAEA team was forced to remain at a checkpoint for the duration of the shelling.
Local Ukrainian officials alleged Moscow had been targeting two other cities which overlook the plant, across the Dnieper river, with rocket fire, stating rockets are falling short.
According to Sputnik, Russia has accused Ukraine of artillery fire targeting the nearby town of Enerhodar leaving artillery shells to fall short near and in the ZNPP perimeter.
Explosions could be heard in the little village of Zorya, which is approximately 12 miles away from the ZNPP. Residents of Zorya said that it wasn't the shelling that was the most frightening, but rather the risk of radioactivity from the power plant.
"...the power plant, yes, this is the scariest,... Because the kids and adults will be affected, and it's scary if the nuclear power plant is blown up..." - Natalia Stokoz, resident of Zorya and mother of three
"...there is anxiety because we are so close and the shelling is increasing..." - Oleksandr Pasko, resident of Zorya and farmer
There have been some of the fiercest battles yet occurring in the Donetsk region, according to the governor of eastern Donetsk. Friday there were two deaths and three injuries. In the town of Zaitseve, one person was killed as the Russian military pressed on into Ukrainian-controlled areas, trying to get closer to Bakhmut, a key strategic city.
Oleh Syniehubov, the regional governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, has said that six civilians were injured and taken to the hospital, following Russian shelling.
Though coverage of the event has been widespread and trending on the internet, it does not do enough to illustrate the dedication that the organization has to thwart a nuclear disaster. | IAEA Expert Team | CC-BY-2.0 | via Wikimedia Commons
The IAEA is not unaware of dangerous situations. It was active during the Fukushima disaster in Japan, entering Iran's hazardous environment and inspecting its nuclear program, and Soviet Georgian facilities during the fighting. However, the task force's mission in Ukraine amid the fighting is altogether different. Though coverage of the event has been widespread and trending on the internet, it does not do enough to illustrate the dedication that the organization has to thwart a nuclear disaster.
Rafael Grossi, the current Director-General of the IAEA and team leader at ZNPP, said that the fighting around the plant was quite apparent in the active warzone and stated this:
"There were moments when fire was obvious - heavy machine guns, artillery, mortars at two or three times were really very concerning, I would say, for all of us,..."
"This is not the first time that an IAEA team has gone into a situation of armed hostilities,... But this situation in Zaporizhzhia, I think it's the most serious situation where the IAEA has sent people in ever, so it's unprecedented... Any time a nuclear power plant is in the middle of armed hostilities, shelling on its territory and nearby creates unacceptable risks,... So, you know, any misfired shell could hit one of the reactors or disable some system that can lead to much bigger consequences..." - Tariq Rauf, former IAEA Director-General
Tariq Rauf later said that the IAEA can't force the implementation of safety measures or make countries stop fighting. It can only advise the nations as to what they need to do. Ultimately the nations must take the warnings of the IAEA and decide for themselves what needs to be done.
The IAEA is not the only international organization with teams on the ground in Ukraine, looking to maintain a constant presence there.
Karim Khan, International Criminal Court Prosecutor in the Hague, has visited Ukraine multiple times, seeking to set up an office there as a base of operations, which would include sending investigators into the warzone to gather evidence of war crimes and atrocities.
Also in the Hague, The International Commission on Missing Persons has sent multiple missions to Ukraine and already has a base of operations set up in the country.
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