Kyiv, Aug 26: A team from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine soon but more shelling was reported in the area overnight.
The visit comes after the plant was temporarily knocked offline, fuelling fears of a catastrophe in a nation still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
There were conflicting reports on Friday on the extent of the damage to a transmission line at the complex Europe’s largest nuclear plant that caused a blackout across the region on Thursday.
It was not immediately clear whether the damaged line carried outgoing electricity or incoming power that is needed for the reactors’ vital cooling systems. A loss of cooling could cause a nuclear meltdown.
Russia-installed officials in the Zaporizhzhia region have blamed Ukraine for the fire. They said on Friday that plant was functioning normally but that because of the problem, the plant was only supplying electricity to Russia-controlled areas and not the rest of Ukraine.
Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s electricity transmission system operator, however, reported on Friday that the two main power lines supplying the Zaporizhzhia plant with electricity that were damaged by the Russian shelling have resumed operation.
Thanks to this, a stable power supply and safe operation of nuclear waste storage facilities and other important facilities located at the ZNPP site were ensured, Ukrenergo reported on Telegram.
The statement added that the company’s repair teams will soon complete the restoration of another main line, further boosting the safety of the power plant.
Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator, Energoatom, said on Friday morning that all of the plant’s power units were still disconnected from the power grid and repair work was underway.
But by 2 pm it reported that the plant had been reconnected to the power grid and was producing electricity for Ukraine’s needs .
The nuclear workers of Zaporizhzhya power plant are real heroes! They tirelessly and firmly uphold the nuclear and radiation safety of Ukraine and the whole of Europe on their shoulders and work selflessly so that their native country has life-giving electricity, the company said in a statement.
Fighting near the nuclear plant has sparked fears of a nuclear disaster that could affect both the area around that plant and much wider in Europe, just like the Chernobyl accident in 1986.