Zaporizhzhia relying on diesel generators after losing off-site power

03 November 2022

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's connection to its main 750 kV power line and its 330 kV back-up off-site power supply were lost late on Wednesday, with its emergency generators automatically switching on to provide the necessary power.

With six reactors, Zaporizhzhia is Europe's largest nuclear power plant (Image: IAEA)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said: "This is an extremely concerning development that again demonstrates the plant's fragile and vulnerable situation … measures are needed to prevent a nuclear accident at the site and the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone is urgently needed."

The IAEA said that Ukrainian operating staff had said it appeared the power lines had suffered "physical damage at two different locations about 50-60 kilometres from the plant itself, in Ukrainian-controlled territory", adding that repair work on the 330kV line was under way.

Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator Energoatom said there was enough fuel to run the emergency generators for about 15 days, with nine of the 20 backup generators running on Thursday "to provide the power the plant needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions".

Four of the the six reactors were already in cold shutdown, and as a result of the loss of the external power the two reactors in hot shutdown mode - to provide steam to the plant's operations - are also being transferred to cold shutdown.

Grossi has been seeking for months to get both sides to agree the terms for a safety and security zone at and around the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is located near the frontline of the conflict. He has held talks with Ukraine's and Russia's presidents and is continuing efforts to get the details of how a zone might work agreed.

The nuclear plant - Ukraine and Europe's largest - has been under the control of the Russian military since early March, although it continued to be operated by its Ukrainian staff. Last month Russia's president announced annexation of parts of Ukraine, including the nuclear plant - Ukraine rejected the annexation announcement.

Energoatom says that the loss of power supply was "another attempt to reconnect the nuclear plant to the Russian energy system". The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine "calls on the IAEA and international partners to intervene in the situation in order to restore the safe operation" of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Russian side meanwhile said Ukraine had disconnected the power lines, according to the Tass news agency, which quotes Rosenergoatom's Renat Karchaa as saying this meant that the two reactors which had been able to provide heat energy for residents in Energodar had had to be transferred to cold shutdown.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News