3rd Feb 2023

Backup generator deployed to prevent Ukraine nuclear disaster

  • 'If our station staff had not reacted after the blackout, then we would have already been forced to overcome the consequences of a radiation accident," Ukraine president Volodmyr Zelensky said (Photo: Al Jazeera screengrab)
Listen to article

Electricity to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was cut off for several hours which could have resulted in nuclear disaster, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address on Thursday evening (25 August).

Zelensky blamed Russian forces for shelling in the area, which caused a fire in a nearby coal power station, causing blackouts in the power grid.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Zelensky said the plant's Ukrainian staff prevented disaster by quickly switching on the backup diesel generators.

"If our station staff had not reacted after the blackout, then we would have already been forced to overcome the consequences of a radiation accident," he said.

Ukrainian officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, that Europe's largest nuclear power plant lost connection to its primary power source "at least twice" on Thursday.

Its backup generator can power its cooling systems, but its two operating reactor units remain disconnected from the electricity grid.

If emergency power to the plant's security systems is disrupted, water used to cool down spent fuel rods will heat up and evaporate. Without coolant, the fuel rods become vulnerable to catching fire, causing explosions which would release radiation into the atmosphere.

According to the Ukraine state nuclear company Energoatom, this was the first complete disconnection in the plant, which was captured by Russian forces in March but is still operated by Ukrainian technicians.

The facility normally has four external power lines, but three of them were lost earlier during the conflict.

"Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster," Zelensky said, urging that UN officials be given access to the site.

IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said he would personally lead a visit to the site in the "next few days."

"Almost every day, there is a new incident at or near [the Zaporizhzhia facility]", he tweeted on Thursday. "We can't afford to lose any more time."

"Russia should agree to the demilitarised zone around the plant and agree to allow an International Atomic Energy Agency visit as soon as possible," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told press.

But writing on Telegram, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the occupied town of Enerhodar near the plant, denied any wrongdoing on Russia's part and said that the blackout was caused "as a result of provocations by Zelenskiy's fighters."

France, Germany, UK and US discuss Ukraine nuclear plant

The leaders of the United States, Germany, France and the UK held a conference call on Sunday, where they discussed Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, amid an evacuation of some 1,000 nearby residents.


Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.


Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.

Latest News

  1. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  2. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  3. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  4. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  5. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU
  6. EU green industry plan could spark 'dangerous subsidy race'
  7. Wolves should be defended, EU ministers urge
  8. EU Commission wants drones for Bulgaria on Turkey border

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us