The last reactor at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is stopped : NPR

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, in Ukraine on Aug. 28.

Planet Labs PBC via AP


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Planet Labs PBC via AP


This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, in Ukraine on Aug. 28.

Planet Labs PBC via AP

KYIV, Ukraine — The nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, controlled by Russia and at the center of much international concern, has announced they are powering down the final working reactor.

In a message Sunday morning, the nuclear operator Energoatom said that power lines had been restored to the Zaporizhzhia power plant but that they were powering down Reactor No. 6, preparing it to be cooled and transferred to a safer state.

Because of shelling in and around the area, the entire plant has been cut off from the electricity grid for several days, with the one working reactor, on “island mode,” essentially powering the rest of the plant’s crucial cooling systems.

The owners have been discussing shutting down the plant — because of the power issues and the condition of the Ukrainian workers.

NPR understands that its felt the powering down solution is the “best available, but temporary” option. It’s feared that powerlines accessing the grid could be damaged again.

In that case, the plant would have to fire up emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool and prevent a nuclear meltdown. The company’s chief said on Thursday that the plant only has diesel fuel for 10 days.

A Russian serviceman guards an area of ​​the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in May.

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A Russian serviceman guards an area of ​​the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in May.

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The plant, one of the 10 biggest atomic power stations in the world, has been occupied by Russian forces since the early stages of the war. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling around the plant that has damaged the power lines connecting it to the grid.

In an early Sunday statement, 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 which has two experts at the plant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. Its director has called for a safe zone around the plant to avert a disaster.

Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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