The country’s nuclear operator announced in an updated statement on Friday, a day after the plant was disconnected for the first time in its history, that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which is currently occupied by Russian forces, has been restored to Ukraine’s energy grid. According to a statement from Energoatom, one of the two reactors “that was stopped yesterday was rejoined to the electricity grid, and capacity is being increased” at 2:04 p.m. local time on Friday.
The operator afterward declared that a second reactor had been installed. Energoatom issued a statement stating that “[Zaporizhzhia plant] continues to operate in the energy system of Ukraine and meet our country’s electrical demands despite continuous provocations by the (Russian) occupiers.”
In his daily address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the workers of the facility for defending it “against the worst-case situation, which is continually being provoked by Russian forces.” “The station is currently linked to the network. Congratulations! It provides Ukraine with energy.” According to the nuclear operator at the time, fires at a nearby thermal power plant were to blame for the station’s sole surviving power line disconnecting twice on Thursday. The three other lines of the facility were “lost earlier during the battle,” it was noted.
Later on Thursday, the power was restored, but the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was not reconnected to the nation’s electrical grid until Friday. The plant’s two remaining nuclear reactors require an electricity source in order to run and supply power to the grid. The largest nuclear power station in Europe has been in Russian hands since March. Conflicts near the complex have raised a lot of anxiety and disaster fears.
Russian soldiers are allegedly keeping heavy weapons inside the complex and using it as cover for strikes, knowing that Ukraine cannot retaliate without running the risk of damaging one of the plant’s six reactors. This accusation has been made by Kyiv on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Moscow has asserted that Ukrainian soldiers are aiming toward the location. Both sides have made an effort to blame the other for making nuclear terrorist threats.
In order to prevent a “radiation disaster,” Zelensky claimed on Thursday that backup diesel generators at the plant were “immediately engaged.” Zelensky added in his evening address, “The world must understand what a threat this is: If the diesel generators hadn’t kicked in, if the automation and our employees of the plant hadn’t responded after the blackout, then we would already be obliged to deal with the effects of the radiation accident.”
In the case of a power loss, the generators are set up to operate cooling pumps and prevent the fuel from overheating. Zelensky also highlighted on Friday that “The situation (at the facility) continues to be extremely hazardous and perilous. Any repetition of yesterday’s events, i.e., any disconnecting of the plant from the grid or any Russian moves that could result in the reactors being shut down, will again put the plant in danger.”
He emphasized the need for prompt access to the site for IAEA officials, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. An administrative staff member at the plant told CNN on Friday that the “situation sometimes appears like the end of the world” due to “shelling surrounding the station and the city, smoke from fires, dust from the ash dump of a thermal power plant.”
The employee, whose identity is being withheld for their security but who has previously spoken with CNN, continued, “It’s particularly terrible when there are heavy winds.” About 20% of Ukraine’s electricity is produced by the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, thus a protracted disengagement from the national grid would have been extremely difficult for Ukraine as winter approaches.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said in a statement that Russia claimed it was making every effort to ensure that a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could enter the nuclear power plant. The factory is situated in the southern Ukraine region that is under Russian control. According to the IAEA, it has been six months since the conflict started before it was permitted to visit the plant.