Ukrainian Nuclear Plant at Risk of Catastrophe Loses Connection to All External Power Lines

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The nuclear power plant at risk of severe damage in the middle of the Russia–Ukraine war lost connection to its remaining external power line and is receiving energy from a reserve line, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Saturday.

The power plant, located in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, had previously lost connection to its three other external power lines during the war, and is now being supplied energy solely from thermal power plant, the IAEA said in a statement.

If the plant is sufficiently damaged, nuclear waste from the plant, around twice the size of Chernobyl, could spread across Europe. Russia and Ukraine have pointed fingers regarding whose troops are damaging the plant, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky calling the attacks “Russian nuclear terror.”

IAEA experts arrived to the plant on Thursday after warning that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant, and “what is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”

Upon arrival, the IAEA found that “there was damage to the facility’s solid radioactive waste storage, the ventilation pipe of special building 1, and the [nuclear power plant] training building,” according to the statement.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said the plant, which is the largest in Europe, poses a “maximum danger for our world,” and called for IAEA experts to monitor the facility.

PHOTOS: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said the White House is in favor of establishing a demilitarized zone around the plant. He also expressed support for the IAEA mission, saying, “We are glad that the team is on its way to ascertain the safety, security and safeguards of the systems there, as well as to evaluate the staff’s working conditions.”

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, expressed optimism about his team finally being able to monitor the facility, but maintained that he’s “gravely concerned.”

“The difference between having the IAEA at the site and not having us there is like day and night. I remain gravely concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant – this hasn’t changed – but the continued presence of the IAEA will be of paramount importance in helping to stabilise the situation. I’m immensely proud of the critically important and courageous work the IAEA team is now able to perform at the ZNPP,” Grossi said.

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