The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, warned Wednesday that the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine remains precarious due to the continued outage of a power line as a result of a Russian missile strike.
Grossi said in a statement that the last electric line for emergency use has been cut and under repair since March 1.
This line ensures that the station will continue to be connected to the electrical network if the main power line that supplies it with electricity is cut off.
Electricity is an essential component of nuclear safety and security at the plant, especially since it ensures the cooling of nuclear reactors.
In his statement, Grossi said that the station has been receiving electricity for three weeks from one main external line with a voltage of 750 kilovolts, and any damage that may befall this line will lead to a complete blackout of external power from the station.
The Director General stressed that the nuclear safety inside the plant is still in a precarious state.
“I call once again on all parties to commit themselves to ensuring the plant’s nuclear safety and protecting its security,” he added.
On March 9, the station was cut off from the Ukrainian electricity grid for 11 hours, as a result of a Russian strike.
On that day, the emergency diesel generators were operated to secure a minimum amount of current for the safety systems to continue working.
“We’re playing with fire,” Grossi said.
His opinion was agreed by European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who said, “This is a serious breach of nuclear security caused by Russia… Zaporizhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and Russia threatens the security of the entire European continent, including Russia”.
If the power supply to the plant’s cooling systems is cut off, the reactor fuel temperature could cause a nuclear accident similar to what happened in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.
The Russian army has occupied the Zaporizhia station since March 2022, nine days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.