March 21, 2023


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Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has become a “Russian military base”, “they are using it as a nuclear shield”

Lack of staff

“Most of the occupation troops are at the power station because they feel safe there,” said the mayor, who has lived since April 2022 in Zaporizhia, the regional capital, 120 kilometers from Energodar, but maintains regular contact with them. People left behind.

Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom told AFP that the number of workers at the plant has dropped from 11,000 before the invasion to 6,500.

Thousands of professionals have left for Kyiv-controlled territories, and about 2,600 of those who remain have agreed to “collaborate with the Russian occupier,” Energoatom said.

“There is a real staffing problem that affects security,” Mr. According to Orlov, the employees are under “pressure” from the Russians and, in particular, are forced to work under reduced numbers and without holidays.

The plant, which previously produced 20% of Ukraine’s electricity, continued to operate in the first months of the invasion, despite periods of bombing, before being shut down in September.

Since then, none of its six Soviet-era VVER-1000 reactors have produced electricity, but the facility is connected to Ukraine’s power system and uses the electricity generated for its own needs.

“Residents have been trying for months to connect it to the Russian electricity system, but they have not succeeded,” the mayor said.

According to Energoatom’s press service, “the Russians were unable to restart even one reactor due to damaged high-voltage lines”.

There is no military solution

According to Energoatom, if Moscow had sent nuclear experts to the plant, “their skills would not be sufficient to organize a real job”.

And the Ukrainian nuclear operator warns that the closure of the plant leads to “gradual degradation of all its systems and equipment”.

The committee is also concerned about the “risk of a nuclear accident” if the last power line connecting the plant to the Ukrainian energy system breaks.

In a note released on Wednesday, the US Center for War Studies estimated that Moscow “could try to deter a possible Ukrainian counterattack by intensifying threats against the Zaporizhia power plant” in the country’s south.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent observers to the plant in September and is trying to negotiate its demilitarization, but the process does not appear to be progressing.

IAEA Director Rafael Croci announced on Twitter on Thursday that he had completed a new round of experts, with a video showing observers wearing helmets and bulletproof vests walking around a bridge destroyed to reach the power plant with his message.

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