The Daily Telegraph
Last reactor shut down at besieged Ukraine nuclear plant to avert threat of catastrophe
THE last reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia has been turned off to reduce the threat of a radiation disaster amid continuing fighting.
While Zaporizhzhia’s reactors are protected by a reinforced shelter that could withstand an errant shell or rocket, a disruption in the electrical supply could knock out cooling systems essential for the reactors’ safety.
Ukraine’s nuclear operator, Energoatom, said the restoration of one of power lines linking the plant to the country’s power grid allowed engineers to shut down its last operating reactor.
The company said the move was necessary to prevent a scenario whereby the plant would have to rely exclusively on emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool and prevent a nuclear meltdown.
It came as president Vladimir Putin yesterday warned his French counterpart of the potential “catastrophic consequences” of what he said were Ukrainian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
During a telephone call to Emmanuel Macron the Russian leader “drew attention to regular Ukrainian attacks on facilities, including a radioactive waste storage facility, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences”, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The plant has been a focal point of fighting in recent weeks, raising concerns of a potential nuclear incident.
Mr Macron told Mr Putin the plant’s occupation by Russian troops is the reason why its security is compromised.
He had asked Russia to withdraw heavy and light weapons from the plant and abide by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) recommendations to ensure security at the site.
“The president will remain in contact with president Volodymyr Zelensky as well as the IAEA and will speak again in the coming days with president Putin so that an accord to guarantee security at the power plant can be found,” the French presidency said.
Mr Putin said Russian specialists were taking steps to ensure the plant’s safety and Moscow was ready to work with the IAEA to agree on “non-politicised” solutions to the problem.