Ukraine nuclear site, Europe’s biggest, reconnected to grid after line was cut. Source: THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

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Ukraine nuclear site, Europe’s biggest, reconnected to grid after line was cut

International Atomic Energy Agency describes ‘temporary relief’ over Zaporizhzhia plant but fears of atomic accident remain high

By Agencies Monday 10th October 2022, 1:59 am

A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP)

An external power line to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the biggest in Europe — was repaired on Sunday after shelling disconnected the facility from the grid and forced it to resort to emergency diesel generators, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said the 750-kilovolt line was reconnected to the plant on Sunday evening following repair work by Ukrainian engineers. That enabled the plant to start switching off the generators that had kicked in to provide it with power after the line — its last connection to the grid — was cut early Saturday.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi tweeted that the reconnection was “a temporary relief in a still-untenable situation.”

The plant has been held by Russian forces for months, but operated by Ukrainian employees. All six reactors at the site are shut down but they still require electricity for cooling and other safety functions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government this week to take over operations at the power station in southern Ukraine, where fears of an atomic accident remain high.

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Grossi was in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss setting up a protection zone around the site which has regularly come under fire with Ukraine and Russia blaming each other.

A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

“A protection zone is needed now. I will travel to Russia and will see Ukraine’s [President Volodymyr] Zelensky thereafter to establish the zone,” Grossi added in his tweet on Sunday.

He has stressed the zone’s main aim is “to avoid a nuclear accident at the plant, which remains a very, very clear possibility.”

“Almost every day now, there is shelling in the region where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is located and where the plant workers and their families live,” he said. “The shelling must stop, immediately. It is already having an impact on the nuclear safety and security situation at the plant.”

Electricity has been cut to the site several times since August.

Ukrainian operating staff told IAEA experts that a convoy of five trucks carrying “vital additional diesel fuel supplies” is currently in the city of Zaporizhzhia and plans to cross the front line to reach the plant on Monday, the agency said. The site currently has diesel reserves for about 10 days. Separately, a supply of diesel provided by the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has arrived in Enerhodar, the IAEA added.

People stand in front of a building that was heavily damaged after a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, October 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions in Ukraine that Putin has annexed in violation of international laws.

Putin signed a decree Wednesday declaring that Russia was taking over the nuclear plant. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void.” Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it would continue to operate the plant.

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