Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Conditions Have Deteriorated, Ukraine Says
Ukrainian authorities say the condition of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine has deteriorated significantly in the year since Russian forces occupied it and Moscow’s aim may be to make it unusable. at the time it was finally returned to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s national nuclear company, Energoatom, said Russian soldiers recently placed machine guns on the factory premises, placed military equipment in the engine room, covered windows with sandbags and even carried out work. welding in the house caused the alarm to explode. in a post on the social messaging app Telegram.
Those actions were due to shelling damage last summer, including spent nuclear fuel storage; disruption in the management of the plant during power struggles with the Russian occupiers; and shut down the complex’s six reactors.
“There is a feeling that one of the goals of the occupiers is to leave the ZNPP in a state of inoperability after it is liberated,” Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Ukrainian television this week. before.
The instability at the plant, the largest in Europe, violates basic rules of nuclear safety. The International Atomic Energy Agency warned last week that the plant’s situation was “precarious”. United Nations inspectors last month warned of continuous explosions that could be heard from the plant, apparently in reference to shelling along the nearby front lines of the war.
At the same time, Moscow, which illegally annexed the Zaporizhzhia region last October, has placed the plant under the control of state nuclear company Rosatom, and has been engaged in a protracted struggle with Ukrainian engineers and officials on the management of the plant. Ukrainian authorities say several workers have been questioned and at least one person has been killed.
Last month, authorities also said Moscow had stationed hundreds of troops in a bunker at the factory before they were deployed in eastern Ukraine.
While the plant’s six reactors no longer generate electricity for Ukraine’s electricity grid, the complex still requires electricity for safety and maintenance reasons. The IAEA said last week that the plant’s only remaining 330 kilovolt backup power line had been disconnected for the third time in less than a week, possibly due to shelling on the other side of the Dnipro River.
Moscow’s control of the plant gives it significant leverage over Ukraine’s energy production and months-long negotiations held by the IAEA with warring governments aimed at establishing a security zone. around the factory still no results.
Mr. Halushchenko said that those talks had reached a dead end because Moscow refused to accept their demand that the plant be demilitarized and that Rosatom should withdraw.