Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operates precariously as war drags on

Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said on Friday that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, caught up in Ukraine’s war with Russia, was operating in emergency mode with high risk.

The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant came under the control of Russian forces at the start of the war that began in February, but it is operated by Ukrainian personnel. The plant and surrounding areas have been repeatedly hit by shelling that Russia and Ukraine blame on each other’s forces.

The last power line connecting the plant to the Ukrainian power grid was cut on Monday, leaving the plant without an external source of electricity and powered for its own safety systems by the only one of the six reactors that remains operational.

Energoatom, the state nuclear operator, said on Friday that repairs to outside lines were impossible due to the bombardments and that operating in the so-called “island” carries “the risk of violating safety standards against radiation and fires”.

“Only the withdrawal of the Russians from the plant and the creation of a security zone around it can normalize the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Only then can the world breathe,” said Friday Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom. Ukrainian television.

Fighting continued on Friday in parts of southern and eastern Ukraine and in the north where Ukraine says it has recently pushed Russian forces out of certain areas.

Russian planes bombed the hospital in the town of Velika Pysarivka, on the border with Russia, said Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, governor of the Sumy region. he said the building had been destroyed and there had been an unknown number of casualties.

Four people were killed in shelling in the Kharkiv region, including two in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, according to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov. Ukraine claimed this week to have regained control of more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region, including the small town of Balakliya.

Social media posts showed crying and smiling residents of Balakliya hugging Ukrainian soldiers.

In the Donetsk region to the east – one of two which Russia declared to be sovereign states at the start of the war – eight people have been killed in the town of Bakhmut in the past day and the town is without water or electricity for the fourth straight day, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

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Christi C. Elwood