Vienna — Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has been without an external back-up power supply for three months, leaving it "extremely vulnerable", the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi has warned.
The plant is reliant on one remaining operational 750 kilovolt (kV) power line for the external electricity it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions, the IAEA said.
Before the conflict, the plant had four such off-site power lines available.
"The general situation at the site remains highly precarious and potentially dangerous," Grossi said.
"The site’s fragile power situation continues to be a source of deep concern and – as the newly-established IAEA principles indicate – there is a need for intensified efforts to ensure a more stable and predictable external electricity supply."
The IAEA principles state Zaporizhzhya should not be used as a military base or as a storage facility for weapons such as tanks or artillery that could be deployed from the site.
They also call for the plant's external power supply to be guaranteed and the plant to be protected from acts of sabotage.
The IAEA said should the 750 kV line fail, as it did on May 22, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant would be forced to rely on emergency diesel generators as a last line of defence.
Meanwhile, a team of IAEA experts onsite reported hearing two landmine explosions near the plant, "again highlighting the tense situation amid intense speculation of imminent military action in the region," the agency said.
The six-reactor plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022.
Grossi said he expected to visit the plant soon, which would be the third time during the conflict.
“With the establishment of the five principles – and my intention to report about any violations – it is important that I travel to the plant again to assess developments there since my last visit in late March,” he said.
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