Russia has no current plans to restart Ukraine plant

May 31, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Energoatom)

An official from Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom said this week that there are no current plans to reopen the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, has been under Russian control since March 2022, since early in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rosatom chief executive Alexei Likhachev told Russian news agency TASS that there is no plans to restart the plant in the near future. At full production Zaporizhzhia can generate 5.7 GW of electricity and, previously. the plant accounted for nearly half of Ukraine’s nuclear power production.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, met with a Rosatom delegation this week in Russia to discuss Zaporizhzhia and the plant’s safety.

“We were able to reach an understanding on some of the immediate work we need to undertake, exchanges we need to have on the safety of the plant, on its eventual restart, what is needed for that, [whether] it is possible under the current circumstances,” Grossi told TASS.

Background: Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors were all powered down by September 2022, and all of the units are now in cold shutdown. The IAEA has staff stationed at Zaporizhzhia, and Grossi shares frequent updates on safety concerns at the site.

The IAEA has reported ongoing military action in proximity of the nuclear plant, including reports of Russian drone aircraft flying over the site and the firing of small arms nearby. The kamikaze-style drones—some as large as 11 feet long and 8 feet wide—do not fire missiles but are equipped with explosives and can strike with precision. One person was killed in a drone strike in April at the site. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling at or near the plant and both deny the accusations.

In addition, the plant’s off-site power sources face ongoing disruption. On May 23, the IAEA reported the loss of Zaporizhzhia’s sole remaining 750-kv power line due to a reported short circuit, and the plant had to rely on its only 330-kV backup line for hours.

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