Lviv, Ukraine, Sep 11 (EFE).- The last operating reactor at Zaporizhzhia was switched off early on Sunday as Ukraine’s Russian-occupied nuclear plant prepares to enter a “cold shutdown” mode for security reasons.
Olga Kosharna, a Ukrainian nuclear energy expert, told Efe that the staff at the facility shut down the reactor after electricity was restored.
The decision to stop the reactor and put Europe’s biggest nuclear plant into “cold shutdown” mode was made after Zaporizhzhia operated on a critically low capacity for three days due to the damage it sustained amid military strikes, according to the government-run nuclear operator Energoatom.
“The risk of losing the generator was very real. Avoiding it testifies to the high skill of the personnel,” Kosharna said.
On Saturday evening, the plant started receiving electrical power from the Ukrainian power grid, allowing its sixth and last reactor to be shut down.
“The switch to the ‘cold shutdown’ mode is going to take 14-15 hours and requires electricity supply either from the electrical grid, which is preferable or from the reserve diesel generators,” she explained.
Volodymyr Kudrytsky, chief of the electricity transmission system operator Ukrenergo, said: “Russia is systematically and deliberately damaging” the transmission network around the plant.
Over the past three weeks, Ukrenergo fixed the main high-voltage power lines twice to connect the plant to the Ukrainian electrical grid.
According to Energoatom, the plant will turn to diesel generators for power due to the repeated damage inflicted on the power system there.
The ability to use the generators to power the station is limited by “the technical resource and the amount of available diesel fuel.”
Energoatom said it was doing everything it could to coordinate the supply of additional diesel fuel to the station.
In a statement, the nuclear operator said that it was necessary to stop Russian strikes against the high-voltage power grid connections and create a demilitarized zone around the plant.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that his country was ready to supply Poland with more electricity to help it cope with rising energy prices.
However, he added that the ability to do so depended on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is delivers over a quarter of all available electricity in the country. EFE