Final reactor at Ukraine nuclear plant shut down after power restored

Ukraine’s atomic power operator has said the last reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power station has been shut down after the plant was reconnected to the electricity grid.

he six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant was disconnected from the grid last week after all its power lines were cut off as a result of fighting in the area, and was operating in “island mode” for several days, generating electricity for crucial cooling systems from its only remaining reactor in operation.

Energoatom said one of the power lines was restored late on Saturday, allowing plant operators to shut down the last reactor.

The company said the risk remains high that outside power is cut again, in which case the plant will have to fire up emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool and prevent a nuclear meltdown.

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FILE – This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant occupied by Russian forces, in Ukraine on Aug. 28, 2022. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant , built during the Soviet era and one of the 10 biggest in the world, has been engulfed by fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops in recent weeks, fueling concerns of a nuclear catastrophe. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

The head of Energoatom told the Associated Press on Thursday that the plant only has diesel fuel for 10 days.

The plant, one of the 10 biggest atomic power stations in the world, has been occupied by Russian forces since the early stages of the war. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling around the plant that has damaged the power lines connecting it to the grid.

In a statement early on Sunday, Energoatom urged Russian forces to leave the plant and allow for the creation of a “demilitarised zone” around it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog which has two experts at the plant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Its director has called for a safe zone around the plant to avert a disaster.

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