Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant reconnected to country’s power grid, nuclear operator says

Energoatom’s statement said that as of 2:04 p.m. local time on Friday, one of the electrical units “which was shut down yesterday was connected to the electrical grid, and capacity is being added.”

He called the Zaporizhzhia nuclear workers “true heroes” who “tirelessly and firmly hold the nuclear and radiation safety of Ukraine and all of Europe on their shoulders and work selflessly to ensure that their homeland has ‘vital electricity’.

Fires at a nearby thermal power plant had caused two cuts Thursday of the last remaining power line, which supplies the plant, according to the nuclear operator at the time. The other three lines of the factory had been “lost earlier in the conflict”, he added.

Power was restored later on Thursday, but the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remained disconnected from the country’s power grid until Friday. The two nuclear reactors that remain operational at the plant need a source of electricity to operate and feed the grid.

The nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe, has been under Russian control since March. Clashes around the compound have sparked widespread concern and fears of disaster.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian forces of stockpiling heavy weapons inside the complex and using them as cover to launch attacks, knowing that Ukraine cannot retaliate without risking hitting one of the six reactors of the central.

Moscow, meanwhile, claimed Ukrainian troops were targeting the site. Both sides attempted to point fingers at the other for threatening nuclear terrorism.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said emergency diesel generators had been “immediately activated” at the plant to avert a “radioactive disaster”.

“The world needs to understand what a threat this is: if the diesel generators hadn’t turned on, if the automation and our plant personnel hadn’t responded after the power outage , we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of the radiation accident,” Zelensky said in his late-night address.

Generators are installed to power cooling pumps to prevent fuel overheating in the event of a power outage.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian forces of stockpiling heavy weapons inside the compound and using them as cover to launch attacks.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans on the verge of a radioactive disaster,” Zelensky said, adding that officials from the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, must have urgent access to the site.

An administrative worker at the plant told CNN on Friday that amid “shelling around the station and town, smoke from fires, dust from the ash dump of a thermal power plant,” the “situation sometimes resembles the end of the world”.

“It’s really tough when there are strong winds,” added the worker, who has previously spoken to CNN and whose identity is being withheld for their safety.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant generates around 20% of Ukraine’s electricity and a prolonged disconnection from the national grid would have been a huge challenge for Ukraine as cold weather approaches.

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