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Ukraine war: 'Europe's largest nuclear facility in perilous situation', warns UN nuclear watchdog

UN agency says Zaporizhzhia power plant needs reliable power supply

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (File) A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict outside the city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region | Reuters

United Nations' nuclear watchdog IAEA warned that the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine, the largest such facility in Europe is in a perilous situation. The agency has been demanding both nations to set up a security zone around the plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that the plant needs a reliable power supply to operate pumps that circulate water to cool reactors and pools holding nuclear fuel, the Guardian reported.

According to reports, following a Russian attack on March 9, the Zaporizhzhia plant has depended on a single backup power line that remains disconnected and under repair. Rafael Grossi, head of IAEA said in a statement, “Nuclear safety at the ZNPP remains in a precarious state.”

"The last remaining backup 330 kilovolt (kV) power line at the plant damaged since March 1, remains disconnected and under repair, again highlighting the fragility of nuclear safety and security at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” Grossi said in a statement.

Grossi warned the situation at the plant remains perilous. “The IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia (ISAMZ) team currently present at the plant was informed that restoration of the line had been planned for March 5, 10 and then 13, but had not been possible. The latest reconnection date is scheduled for March 23”, Grossi said.

“If this disconnection from the main power line and repair work is performed while the 330 kV line is not available it will cause a complete loss of power and will make the plant reliant on diesel generators – its last line of defence - for the seventh time,” said Grossi.

IAEA also said this week, teams of IAEA staff will be travelling to Ukraine to complete the planned rotation of staff at the four other Ukrainian nuclear facilities, the Khmelnitsky, Rivne and South Ukraine NPPs, as well as the Chornobyl site.

Grossi called on Russia and Ukraine to commit to secure nuclear safety and security protection at the plant.

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