No UN access yet to Russian-occupied nuke plant in Ukraine

KYIV: A team from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine early but more shelling was reported in the area overnight. The visit comes after the plant was temporarily closed, raising fears of disaster in a country still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
There were conflicting reports on Friday about the extent of damage to transmission lines at the complex – Europe’s largest nuclear plant – that caused power outages across the region on Thursday. . It remains unclear whether the damaged line carries power or is needed for the reactor’s critical cooling system. Loss can cause nuclear meltdown.
Russian-installed officials in the Zaporizhzhia region blamed Ukraine for the fire. They said on Friday that the plant was operating normally, but that due to the problem, the plant was supplying electricity only to areas controlled by Russia and not to the rest of Ukraine.
However, Ukrenergo, the operator of Ukraine’s power transmission system, reported on Friday that two main power lines supplying power to the Zaporizhzhia plant damaged by the Russian shelling had resumed operation.
“As a result, stable power supply and safe operation of nuclear waste storage facilities and other important facilities at the ZNPP site have been ensured,” Ukrenergo reported on Telegram. The statement added that the company’s repair teams will soon complete the restoration of another main line, further promoting the safety of the power plant.
Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator, Energoatom, said Friday morning that all of the plant’s power units remain disconnected from the grid and repair work is underway. But by 2pm it was reported that the plant was reconnected to the grid and was producing electricity “for Ukraine’s needs”.
“The nuclear workers of Zaporizhzhya Power plants are the real heroes! They tirelessly and resolutely protect the nuclear and radiation safety of Ukraine and the whole of Europe on their shoulders and work selflessly so that their home country has a life-giving power source,” the company said. know in a statement.
Fighting near a nuclear plant has raised fears of a nuclear disaster that could affect both the area around that plant and more broadly in Europe, like the 1986 Chernobyl accident. The head of the atomic agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on Thursday he hopes to send a team to the plant within days. Negotiations on how the group will approach the plant are complex but still progressing, he said on France-24 television.
Concern about the plant has reverberated throughout Europe.
“There is great anxiety and concern about nuclear safety. And that is why, since last March, I have been deeply committed to the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to do everything to protect the original Chernobyl and now Zaporizhzhia,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron stressed that “war under any circumstances should not undermine the nuclear safety of our country, the region and the rest of us.” He added that both Ukraine and Russia were committed to the security of the IAEA mission, which he said would happen “very quickly.”
“Therefore, civilian nuclear energy must be fully protected,” he added. “Civil nuclear power must not be a tool of war and therefore the sovereignty of states must be respected regarding nuclear installations.”
Lana Zerkalan adviser to Ukraine’s Energy Minister, told Ukrainian media on Thursday evening that logistical problems were being worked out for the IAEA team to arrive at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces and occupied by Ukrainian workers. operating since the early days of the War 6 months old.
Zerkal accused Russia of trying to sabotage the visit. Ukraine alleges that Russia is essentially holding the factory hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it. For its part, Moscow accused Ukraine of recklessly shelling the facility.
“Despite the fact that the Russians have agreed to the mission to pass through Ukrainian territory, they are now creating all sorts of artificial conditions so that the mission cannot reach the facility, given the surrounding situation,” she said.
Vladimir Rogov, a top official of the government set up by the Kremlin in the Zaporizhzhia region, said on Friday that Russian authorities were prepared to ensure the safety of the IAEA mission when it arrives.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said an area near the plant came under a barrage of Russian shelling overnight, while the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday again accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant. electricity Zaporizhzhia.
Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said “as a result of shelling), four shells exploded near an oxygen-nitrogen generator, and another one near a building. Konashenkov did not give any details on the extent of the damage. damage caused by targeted shelling.
Zaporizhzhia’s reactors are protected by reinforced concrete containment domes, but concerns remain about what could happen if hostilities intensify.
Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said shelling hit the city of Nikopol, located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia factory, damaging 10 houses, a school and a healthcare facility, causing no casualties.
A power line was also cut, leaving 1,000 residents without power, he added. Nikopol has been under near-constant Russian shelling since July 12, with eight people killed, 850 buildings damaged and more than half the population of 100,000 fleeing the city.
Many nuclear plants are designed to automatically shut down or at least reduce reactor output in the event of a loss of transmission. The IAEA said Ukraine had informed it that the reactor’s emergency protection system had been activated and that all safety systems were operational.
The plant’s three regular transmission lines were out of service because of previous war damage. Ukraine cannot simply shut down its nuclear plants during the war because it depends so much on them. Its 15 reactors at four stations provide about half of the country’s electricity.
In another development, two people have been killed and six others injured in the past 24 hours in the eastern Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Friday. Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said that in the northeast region of Sumy, on the border with Russia, more than 100 shells were fired in the past 24 hours, burning down a house.
Governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and another wounded in overnight shelling in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

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