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Update 120 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has restored the connection to its last remaining operating 750 kilovolt (kV) power line after it was lost for the third time in ten days, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today.

IAEA experts present at the ZNPP site were informed by senior Ukrainian operating personnel that the connection was re-established at 9:30pm local time yesterday, almost 18 hours after the line was disconnected by a protection system that automatically takes such action when the voltage drops too low.

The repeated outages show how precarious the nuclear safety and security situation continues to be at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant during the current military conflict in Ukraine. They also underline the need to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility, following frequent shelling at or near the plant in recent months, Director General Grossi said.

During the ZNPP’s previous two external power cuts – on 8 and 12 October, respectively – the plant’s emergency diesel generators provided the back-up electricity needed for reactor cooling and other essential safety functions. Yesterday, however, the ZNPP continued to receive power from an off-site 330 kV line that supplies electricity through a back-up system that was restored late last week.  With today’s re-connection of the 750 kV line, the ZNPP now has both available, although its power situation remains fragile, Director General Grossi said.

While there was no shelling in the vicinity of the plant overnight and today, the IAEA team noticed four landmine explosions during the day. The IAEA team was also informed that intensive shelling of infrastructure across the country has delayed work to restore a second 330 kV back-up external power line to the switchyard of the nearby thermal power plant, though repair work is expected to be performed today.

Separately, the IAEA team on site has learned of the release of a ZNPP Deputy Director General, Valeriy Martynyuk, who was detained early last week. Director General Grossi welcomed his release. It follows the detention earlier this month of ZNPP Director General Ihor Murashov, regarding which Director General Grossi had been in contact with the relevant authorities to contribute to his release.

However, Director General Grossi expressed deep concern about the recent detentions of two other ZNPP staff members, which have been confirmed by the IAEA. “This is another concerning development that I sincerely hope will be resolved swiftly.”

Director General Grossi is continuing consultations on securing the nuclear safety and security protection zone at ZNPP, and it is imperative to agree this as soon as possible, he said.

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