Ukraine’s frontline nuclear plant suffers seventh outage of invasion

Photoshopped image released by Energoatom depicts a Russian soldier guarding the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The ZNPP has been occupied by Russian forces since March but is still run by Ukrainian staff (Energoatom)
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant this morning lost all external electricity for the seventh time since Russia’s invasion began, the director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said today on Twitter.

The outage forced the plant to rely on emergency diesel generators for power, making the safety of the plant “extremely vulnerable”, Grossi said, as he renewed his call on Russia and Ukraine to demilitarise the area around the plant.

He did not say what caused the outage.

Russian forces occupied the plant early in the invasion. It now sits in the southern portion of the war’s approximately 1,000km-long frontline. The Zaporizhzhya oblast, or region, is thought to be one of the targets Ukraine is considering for a counter-offensive this year.

Some 2,500 Ukrainian staff operate the plant under Russian military supervision.

Last week, Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said control of the workforce had reached “a new level of absurdity”, with staff searched, forbidden from moving around the plant, using telephones, or even looking away from their work.

Separately, Energoatom said there were more Russian soldiers at the plant than nuclear workers.

In a statement on Friday, Grossi warned of reports of shelling near the plant’s satellite town of Enerhodar.

“It is very simple,” he said, “don’t shoot at the plant and don’t use the plant as a military base. It should be in the interest of everyone to agree on a set of principles to protect the plant during the conflict.”

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