Conflicts & War

Chernobyl plant left without electricity, IAEA says ‘not critical’ to safety

Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 9 (EFE).- Ukraine’s decommissioned Chernobyl power plant, scene of the world’s worst-ever nuclear disaster, is no longer receiving electricity after it was cut from the power grid, fueling claims from Kyiv officials that the situation could provoke a radioactive leak although the international atomic agency said the safety impact was not “critical.”

Ukraine’s state energy operator Ukrenergo on Wednesday said the power cable connecting the Chernobyl plant to Kyiv had been disconnected and that it was impossible to restore the line due to ongoing military hostilities north of the capital.

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba claimed in a statement that back-up diesel generators had enough reserves to power the systems in place to cool spent nuclear fuel for 48 hours.

“After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” he said.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a tweet that while the power cut violated a “key safety pillar on ensuring uninterrupted power supply” it did not entail a “critical impact on safety.”

In a March 3 statement, the watchdog said that in the event of a power cut, the cooling systems at Chernobyl would function without electrical supply due to radioactive drop-off since the 1986 disaster combined with the volume of cooling water in the pool.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday said the agency was no longer receiving safety monitoring data from the Chernobyl power plant.

He also expressed his concern for the safety and well-being of the staff at the plant.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman ​​Maria Zakharova on Wednesday said that Russian forces were in control of Chernobyl and the operational Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, in southeastern Ukraine, claiming it was necessary to prevent “nuclear provocations” by the Kyiv government.

Russia faced widespread international criticism earlier this month when its forces struck the Zaporizhzhia plant with artillery during the seizure of the site, which caused damage to a training building.

The Chernobyl plant, located near the now-abandoned city of Pripyat, was the scene of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters when on April 26, 1986 an accident at the site’s reactor 4 spewed highly radioactive content over the region and further into Europe.

Slavutich, a city purpose-built to house Chernobyl evacuees, has also been cut off from the power supply, Ukrenergo added. EFE


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