Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear operator Energoatom has completely shut operations at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) to mitigate the fear of radiation discharge as war has intensified in the region.
Reuters reported that Energoatom disconnected the sixth unit of the nuclear facility from the power grid at 3:41pm on 11 September.
In a statement, the company said that preparations were ‘underway for (the plant’s) cooling and transfer to a cold state’.
Both Ukraine and Russia have been blaming each other for shelling near the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is feared could lead to a nuclear disaster.
Russian forces have occupied the nuclear facility since the earliest days of the war, which began on 24 February.
Kyiv has also advised residents living near the NPP to evacuate their homes to ensure their own safety.
Citing Energoatom’s statement, Reuters reported that a decision was made to shut down the plant’s sixth power unit and transfer it to cold shutdown, which was deemed the safest state.
The risk of further damage to the line is thought to remain high, which would force the plant to be powered by diesel generators.
The duration of power by diesel generators is limited by technological resources and the amount of available diesel fuel.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has also called for the demilitarisation of areas surrounding the nuclear facility.
On 10 September, Energoatom said it had restored a communications line to the Zaporizhzhya NPP to operational capacity after it was damaged by shelling.
This has allowed the plant to be powered by Ukraine’s energy system.
Last month, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Rafael Grossi warned that the Zaporizhzhya NPP was ‘completely out of control’.
Grossi urged Russian and Ukrainian armed forces to allow experts to visit the site to stabilise the situation and avoid a nuclear accident.