March 17, 2022
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been told Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant had lost connection to a third power line, but two more remained available.
A file photo of the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant (Image: Energoatom)
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Zaporozhe has four high-voltage offsite power lines plus a backup line. Two of the four were damaged earlier in the current conflict, but the only power line remaining and the one on standby meant, he was told, “there were no safety concerns”.
There are six reactors at the Zaporozhe plant, which has been operated by Ukrainian personnel but under the control of Russian forces since March 4. The two reactors that continued to operate – units 2 and 4 – have slightly reduced their power supply to the grid to adapt to the power line situation, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said. .
The regulator also said that representatives of Russian nuclear operator Rosatom are still at the site although there is not yet “reliable information on the purpose and plans” of their presence and that operations continue. to be carried out by Ukrainian personnel.
Zaporozhe’s power supply problems come just three days after external power was restored in Chernobyl, where emergency generators were put into operation after a power outage following damage to power lines during fighting in the country.
Russian military forces took control of Chernobyl on February 24, with personnel serving at the time expected to remain there since and unable to rotate, with the IAEA’s Grossi saying he remained “seriously concerned about the extremely difficult circumstances for Ukrainian personnel there”.
Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom, in its latest update on March 17, reported that the country’s four nuclear power plants continued to operate safely. Eight of the country’s 15 generators continue to operate. The IAEA has confirmed that it now receives automated monitoring data transmissions from the country’s nuclear power plants, but not from the Chernobyl site.
In the meantime, the power grids of Ukraine and Moldova have been synchronized with the continental European grid. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter: “Ukraine has become a member of the ‘European Energy Union'”. He said that “now our electricity flows in the EU” and that European electricity can flow in Ukraine and thanked all those who made it possible “to now have a single energy system”.
European Commissioner Kadri Simson thanked the European Network of Electricity Transmission System Operators “for having done a year’s work in two weeks to get there”.
Simson added: “This will help Ukraine keep its electricity system stable, heat homes and turn on lights in these dark times. It is also a historic step for EU-Ukraine relations – in this area, Ukraine is now part of Europe.”
Research and writing by World Nuclear News