A Ukrainian minister has said Russia must urgently observe a temporary ceasefire to allow repairs on a power line to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant – warning radiation could be leaked if an electricity outage continues.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity” to power the facility.
On Twitter, he added: “After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent.”
However, the loss of power at the does not have any critical impact on safety, the UN nuclear watchdog has said in a statement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the plant has “sufficient” cooling water for spent nuclear fuel.
The decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant is the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in April 1986.
IAEA says heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply. IAEA update from March 3: https://t.co/x5IlduZQOn
— IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) March 9, 2022
The Ukrainian authorities said with emergency generators currently supplying back-up power, the outage could put systems for cooling nuclear material at risk.
The cause of the damage to the power line serving Chernobyl was not immediately clear, but it comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The site has been under the control of Russian troops since last week.
Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenerho said that, according to the national nuclear regulator, all Chernobyl facilities are without power and the diesel generators have fuel for 48 hours.
Without power the “parameters of nuclear and radiation safety” cannot be controlled, it said.
Ukraine has informed the IAEA of power loss at Chernobyl. France is in contact with the UN watchdog as it seeks to assess the situation – and was also asking Russia to co-operate.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said: “We are trying to clarify these reports together with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
French President Emmanuel Macron had urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure the protection and security of Ukraine’s nuclear sites during talks at the weekend.
Ukrainian officials say they do not know what the radiation levels are in Chernobyl following its capture by Russian troops.
Around 400 Russian troops are said to be stationed at the power plant.
Maria Zakhorava, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the site was operating as normal.