Ukraine Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant suffers loss of power after Russian shelling

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A view shows a sign reading NPP (nuclear power plant) near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Reuters)

A nuclear power plant in Ukraine which is the biggest in Europe has been damaged by Russian shelling overnight, according to Ukraine's state nuclear company.

Energoatom said Russians attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), in southeastern Ukraine, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The company added that the Zaporizhzhia plant, the biggest nuclear power station in Europe, suffered damage to open switchgear, leading to the unit transformer and unit auxiliary transformer being disconnected.

The damage occurred while International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited the plant during the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

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Photo taken on Aug. 4, 2022 shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant NPP in southern Ukraine.  Zaporizhzhia is one of the largest atomic power complexes in Europe and generates a quarter of Ukraine's total electricity. It has been under the control of Russian forces since March and has been the scene of military strikes in recent days. (Photo by Victor/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is located in southern Ukraine. (Getty)

Energoatom said in a statement: “Today, September 21, 2022, at 1:13 am, due to another shelling of the Zaporizhzhya NPP by Russian terrorists, the equipment linking the ZNPP power unit No. 6 to the open switchgear was damaged.

It added: “Due to the loss of power, there was an emergency start of two diesel generators of the safety systems to ensure the operation of the fuel cooling pumps.

“At 2:00 am, ZNPP staff found an opportunity and set up power supply for unit No. 6 in-house needs from the busbars of other power plant units.

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“The diesel generators of the power unit 6 were turned off and put into standby mode.”

Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik tweeted: “Russians shelled the #Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Even the presence of International Atomic Energy Agency @iaeaorg inspectors at the station doesn’t stop them.

“They ignore all the rules. They need to be kicked off the #UN."

Watch: Kyiv accuses Russia of strike on southern nuclear plant

Earlier this month, Russia confirmed two inspectors from the IAEA would stay at Zaporizhzhia NPP on a permanent basis.

The plant has been under the control of Russian forces since March.

Energoatom also accused Russian troops of striking the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine's southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday, but said its reactors had not been damaged and were working normally.

A blast took place 300 metres away from the reactors and damaged power plant buildings shortly after midnight, Energoatom said in a statement.

It said the attack also damaged a nearby hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.

On Sunday, IAEA said a backup power line used to supply the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with electricity for essential operations from the Ukrainian grid was disconnected but the plant remained connected to one of the main power lines restored last week.

The UN nuclear watchdog's 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia power station last Thursday.

The resolution is the second on Russia's invasion of Ukraine passed by the IAEA's board, and their content is very similar, though the first in March preceded Russian forces taking control of Zaporizhzhia.