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Preparations are under way for the facility’s ‘cooling and transfer to a cold state’, according to the Ukrainian agency in charge.
Operations at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine have been fully stopped as a safety measure as fears of a radiation disaster continue.
Energoatom, the state agency in charge of the plant, said on Sunday that work at the facility was “completely stopped” after it disconnected the Number 6 power unit from the grid at 3:41am (00:41 GMT),
“Preparations are underway for its cooling and transfer to a cold state,” it said in a statement.
Kyiv on Wednesday called for residents of Russian-occupied areas around the plant, Europe’s largest, to evacuate for their own safety.
The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant was unplugged from the grid last week after all its power lines were disconnected 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.
Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of damaging power lines connecting the plant to the grid with rocket and artillery fire, risking a nuclear disaster.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the surrounding area to be demilitarised.
Energoatom said it was restored to operational capacity a communications line to the power system, which it said was damaged by Russian shelling, allowing the plant to be powered by Ukraine’s energy system.
“Therefore, the decision was made to shut down power unit No 6 and transfer it to the safest state – cold shutdown,” it said.
The risk of further damage to the line “remains high”, which would force the plant to be “powered by diesel generators, the duration of which is limited by the technological resource and the amount of available diesel fuel”, said Energoatom.
The plant reportedly only has diesel fuel for 10 days.
The atomic facility, one of the 10 biggest nuclear power stations in the world, has been occupied by Russian forces since the early stages of the war.
Energoatom urged Russian forces to leave the Zaporizhzhia plant and allow for the creation of a “demilitarized zone” around it.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog that has two experts at the plant, has also called for a safe zone around the plant to avert a disaster.