Security & Safety

Ukraine / Zaporizhzhia-6 Enters Cold Shutdown As Backup Power Line Gets Restored

By Kamen Kraev
13 September 2022

IAEA continues push for safety zone around Europe’s largest nuclear station
Zaporizhzhia-6 Enters Cold Shutdown As Backup Power Line Gets Restored
IAEA's Rafael Grossi addresses the agency's board of governors meeting on 12 September at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Image courtesy IAEA / D.Calma.
Unit 6 of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine, which was shut down on 11 September, has now entered the so-called state of cold shutdown like the remaining five reactor units onsite, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

Cold shutdown means the nuclear plant requires less power for fuel cooling, which is traditionally the main concern when it comes to reactors which have been shut down.

The IAEA said a second backup power line to Zaporizhzhia was restored on Monday (12 September), enabling operators to keep one line in reserve while the other provides the plant with the external electricity needed for reactor cooling and other essential safety functions during shutdown.

Security Of Facility Remains ‘Precarious’

Zaporizhzhia-6 was used to supply power to the station locally since it lost connection to the grid last week as a result of fighting in the area and shelling which Energoatom has blamed on Russian forces.

The IAEA said that shutting down Unit 6 was made possible by the restoration on Saturday of a 330 kilovolt power line which allowed the plant to get external electricity from the grid instead of relying on the reactor itself for power.

IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi said that despite these developments related to Zaporizhzhia’s access to external power, the security of the facility remains “precarious”.

“A nuclear safety and security protection zone is urgently needed and I have begun initial consultations with the relevant parties [Ukraine and Russia],” he told the IAEA board of governors yesterday.

“This situation is untenable, and we are playing with fire. We cannot continue this situation where we are one step away from a nuclear accident”, Grossi said.

The shutdown of Zaporizhzhia-6 means that eight of Ukraine’s 15 commercial reactors remain in operation: three at Rivne (Rovno), three at South Ukraine and two at Khmelnitski.

Zaporizhzhia has been held by Russian forces since early March, but its Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate the plant.

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