March 30, 2023

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The last reactor stopped at the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The last reactor stopped at the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Europe’s largest nuclear plant has been reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid, allowing engineers to shut down the last operating reactor in an effort to avert a radiological disaster as fighting rages in the region.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, consisting of six reactors, lost its external source of energy a week ago, after all power lines were cut off as a result of the bombing. It had been operating in “island mode” for several days, generating electricity for critical cooling systems from its only remaining operating reactor.

Nuclear power company Energoatom said one of these power lines was restored “to operational capacity” late Saturday, making it possible to run the plant’s safety systems and other systems on electricity from Ukraine’s power system.

“Therefore, a decision was made to shut down the power unit No. 6 and transfer it to the safest state – cold shutdown,” the company said in a statement.

Energoatom said the risk remains high that external power will be cut off again, in which case the plant will have to run emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool and prevent a nuclear meltdown. The company’s president told The Associated Press on Thursday that the plant has been running on diesel fuel for only 10 days.

The station, one of the 10 largest atomic power stations in the world, was occupied by Russian forces from the early stages of the war. Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the bombing around the plant, which damaged power lines connecting it to the grid.

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Energoatom renewed its appeal to the Russian forces to leave the Zaporizhzhia plant and allow the creation of a “demilitarized zone” around it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ international atomic energy agency that has two experts at the station, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Her manager called for a safe area around the plant to avoid a disaster.


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