Off-site power restored at Chernobyl — before power lines damaged again

March 14, 2022, 8:37AMPress Releases
Energoatom, photo of Rovno (Rivne) NPP. Rivne NPP | Energoatom

External power supplies were restored to the decommissioning Chernobyl facility following repairs of damaged power lines — before being reportedly damaged again, according to Ukraine's transmission system operator Ukrenergo.

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on March 13 that off-site power supplies were being restored to Chernobyl after successful repairs to transmission lines. Ukrenergo had fixed one of two damaged lines and would be able to deliver all required off-site power for Chernobyl.

"However, before the power supply was fully restored, the occupying forces damaged it again," Ukrenergo said in a March 14 update. "The repair crew... should head to the occupied territory near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant again, to find and repair new damage to the line."

Chernobyl has been running on on-site backup generation since being disconnected from Ukraine's power grid on March 9 as a result of military clashes. The loss of off-site power at Chernobyl does not pose a threat to the public.

Before the attempted reconnection to the grid, Russia state-owned Rosatom had told the IAEA that fuel supplies for Chernobyl's back-up diesel generators were being brought in, in case they would be needed. Rosatom also suggested power lines could be extended from nearby Belarus to supply Chernobyl.

Rosatom employees are on-site providing "consultative assistance" on repairs at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and at Chernobyl, the IAEA confirmed on March 12. Both facilities are under Russian military occupation.

The arrival of at least eleven Rosatom employees at Zaporizhzhia NPP sparked a flurry of media statements over the weekend. However, the pressing concerns for Ukrainian regulators and the IAEA remain damaged off-site power lines, the well-being of staff at Chernobyl, and the disruptive presence of armed Russian soldiers at both facilities.

Zaporizhzhia NPP staff have been working on rotating shifts but their work remains under the management of the Russian military. Meanwhile, more than 200 staff personnel at Chernobyl have been unable to leave or rotate since the facility was seized by Russia on February 24. Chernobyl staff are reportedly exhausted and have stopped carrying out daily repairs and maintenance.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi assured CNN in a live interview on March 14 that "the safety of the operation [at Chernobyl] is not compromised."

Grossi said the IAEA continues to hold talks aimed at getting armed combatants to adhere to an "ad hoc arrangement" for ensuring nuclear security and safety in Ukraine — including the establishment of "safe zones" around Ukraine's nuclear facilities.

Updates on repair work at Zaporizhzhia NPP:

Zaporizhzhia NPP has four high-voltage (750 kV) offsite power lines plus an additional one on standby. Ukrainian regulators said two of the four lines are damaged but work is underway to repair them amid hostilities in the area. The plant operator told the IAEA that Zaporizhzhia NPP's off-site power needs could be provided with one power line available.

The IAEA relayed that diesel generators at Zaporizhzhia NPP are also ready and functional to provide back-up power if needed. Rosatom confirmed to the IAEA that work is being carried out to repair the damaged power lines and that additional fuel supplies for the back-up diesel generators are being brought in, out of precaution.

The current state of Zaporizhzhia's six reactors remains unchanged: Two units are operating; two units are under repair; the rest are in shutdown mode.

See press releases below for more information.

Status of Ukrainian nuclear power plants

Update: 12 March 2022 08:00

  • Eight of Ukraine's 15 operating reactors are supplying power to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at Rivne, one at Khmelnytskyy, and two at South Ukraine.
  • Radiation levels remain normal.

Follow updates from the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine here.

Status of Ukraine's power grid
National Power Company Ukrenergo

Follow daily updates from the Ukrainian transmission system operator here.

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