Amid the biggest reported missile attack on Ukraine in weeks, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant had to switch to backup generators once again, after losing all power.
This is the first time the site has lost all power since November 2022 – but the sixth time that all off-site power has been cut since the Russian invasion last February – IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said, in a statement to agency directors.
The agency said late on Thursday that power had been restored after 11 tense hours of being completely disconnected. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since the first few days of the full-scale invasion last year, but IAEA experts are deployed there and Ukrainian civilians continue to operate the plant, under the watch of the Russian military.
On Wednesday while in Kyiv, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres noted that the IAEA had been “fully mobilized” to try and preserve the safety and security of nuclear facilities throughout Ukraine and called for the full demilitarization of the entire area around Zaporizhzhya.
“Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out,” the IAEA chief warned.
He added that “there is enough diesel on site for 15 days” to supply the plant’s “essential” needs but that the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power station remains critical.
In an appeal for action to resolve the conflict and guarantee the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure, Mr. Grossi said that he was astonished “by the complacency” of the international community.
He said he would continue to urgently consult Ukrainian and Russian authorities to help avert a potential nuclear disaster, should the reactor lose power altogether.