Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko reiterated warnings that a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could be on the horizon after it was once again disconnected from Ukraine's main grid on Saturday.
“Now only the professionalism of Ukrainian nuclear workers is a fuse against a possible nuclear accident,” Halushchenko wrote in a Facebook post.
Some background: The Zaporizhzhia plant has been subject to intense scrutiny since its occupation shortly after Russia’s invasion in late February. Intense shelling near the facility this summer sparked concerns of a nuclear accident, prompting the International Atomic Energy Agency to send a team there. The plant has been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid on several occasions in recent months due to shelling, according to Ukrainian authorities.
The plant sits in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region and is the largest in Europe. It has been held by Russian forces for more than seven months but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, was in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss his calls to establish a nuclear safety zone around the plant “as soon as possible,” the IAEA said in a statement. Grossi will also visit Russia in the coming days.
Grossi said at a news conference that it’s still unclear what the “practical consequences” were of Russia’s decision to seize the plant, but he would be discussing those matters in high-level meetings in Moscow. He also said that the IAEA considers the facility Ukrainian.
Power line damaged: The last power line connecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine’s power grid was damaged and disconnected due to shelling from Russian forces, Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom reported earlier Saturday.
The powerplant is now relying on diesel generators, which have capacity to provide the plant with electricity for 10 days, according to Energoatom.
“The civilized world has already given a clear assessment of Russia's actions, but the nuclear terrorist continues its blackmail. And they may only be stopped by tough sanctions, primarily against the nuclear industry,” Halushchenko said.
CNN cannot independently verify Halushchenko's claims.