Russia-held Ukrainian nuclear plant regains power
Kyiv – The last regular line supplying electricity to the Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is working again after being cut earlier on Thursday, the United Nations said, an outage that underlined the potential peril posed by nearby fighting.
Ukrainian state nuclear company, Energoatom said earlier fires broke out in the ash pits of a coal power station near the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex, Europe’s largest such facility, disrupting lines linking the plant to the power grid.
“As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network,” a statement from Energoatom read.
“Thus, the actions of the invaders caused a complete disconnection…the first in the history of the plant.”
The last electricity supply to the plant was restored later in the day, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based United Nations (U.N.) nuclear watchdog, informed in a statement.
“Ukraine told the IAEA that the ZNPP … at least twice lost connection to the power line during the day, but that it was currently up again,” the statement indicated, adding that information on the direct cause of the outage was not immediately available.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, captured the Zaporizhzhia plant in March and has controlled it since, although Ukrainian technicians from Energoatom still operate it.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the site, fuelling fears of the potential for a nuclear disaster.
Nuclear experts warned of the risk of damage to the plant’s spent nuclear fuel pools or its reactors.
Cuts in power needed to cool the pools to avoid a disastrous meltdown are another worry.
The U.N. is seeking access to the plant and has called for the area to be demilitarised.
IAEA officials are “very, very close” to being able to visit Zaporizhzhia, agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said on Thursday.
As the war entered its seventh month, Russia said its forces had struck a railway station in eastern Ukraine the previous day, confirming an attack, which Kyiv said also hit a residential area and killed 25 civilians as the nation marked its Independence Day.
The Russia Defence Ministry said an Iskander missile had hit a military train at Chaplyne station that had been set to deliver arms to Ukrainian forces on frontlines in the eastern Donbas region.
Ukrainian officials said 21 people were killed when the railway station was hit and five train carriages went up in flames, and a boy died when a missile struck his home in the vicinity.
The death toll rose to 25 on Thursday after three more bodies were retrieved from rubble, they said.
The Russian ministry said 200 Ukrainian military personnel had died in the attack.
Moscow denies targeting civilians and said rail infrastructure is a legitimate target since it serves to supply Ukraine with Western weapons.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.
But the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine said she was shocked by the attack, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it “fits a pattern of atrocities”.