Ukrainian nuclear plant operating in emergency mode, state operator says

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant involved in Russia’s war in Ukraine is operating under a state of emergency with a higher level of risk, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy operator said on Friday.

The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was under the control of Russian forces from the very beginning of the war that began in February, but is being operated by Ukrainian personnel. The factory and surrounding areas have been repeatedly hit by shelling, which Russia and Ukraine blame each other’s forces.

The last power line connecting the plant to the Ukrainian grid was cut on Monday, leaving the plant without external power and receiving power for its own safety systems from one of the six remaining reactors. work.

Energoatom, the state’s nuclear operator, said Friday that repairs to external lines were not possible because shelling and operations on the so-called “islands” carried “the risk of violating the radiation and explosion safety standards.”

Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, said: “Only withdrawing the Russians from the plant and creating a security zone around it can normalize the situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP. Only then, the world will I can breathe a sigh of relief.” Ukrainian Television.

Kotin explained in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that the only operating reactor “could be completely stopped” at any time and therefore the only source of power would be a diesel generator.

VIEW | UN agency says Ukraine nuclear plant needs safe zone to prevent disaster:

UN agency says Ukraine nuclear plant needs safe zone to prevent disaster

The United Nations atomic watchdog has urged Russia and Ukraine to create a safe and protected nuclear zone around the Zaporizhzhia power plant to prevent a Chornobyl-grade disaster after inspectors discovered artillery fire. The strike damaged six different areas of the plant – some close to the reactor buildings.

There are 20 generators on site and enough diesel fuel for 10 days. After that, about 180 tons of diesel fuel would be needed daily for the generators, which he said was “impossible” while the plant was occupied by Russian troops.

Conditions ‘increasingly precarious’

The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog on Friday said conditions at the power plant were “increasingly precarious” and that a safe zone around it needed to be established immediately. prevent nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called for an immediate end to shelling in the area, which he said caused a “complete blackout” in Enerhodar, the city where the plant is located. .

Grossi also said there is little chance of reliably re-establishing peripheral power lines to the plant.

Meanwhile, fighting continued Friday in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine and in the north, where Ukraine claims to have recently pushed Russian forces out of some areas.

The governor said the hospital was attacked

Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, governor of the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine, said Russian planes bombed a hospital in the town of Velika Pysarivka, on the border with Russia. He said the building was destroyed and the number of casualties was unknown.

In the eastern Donetsk region – one of two that Russia claimed as a sovereign state at the start of the war – eight people have been killed in the city of Bakhmut in the past day, and the city has no running water or electricity. fourth time in a row. days, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

According to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov, four people were killed in shelling in the Kharkiv region, two of them in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest. Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the shelling of the city continued on Friday afternoon, wounding 10 people, including three children.

Reported evacuation from Kharkiv . region

A Russian-installed official in the Kharkiv region on Friday said civilians were being evacuated from three Russian-administered towns in the region under threat from a Ukrainian counterattack.

Vitaly Ginchev said on the daily live stream of state TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov that civilians are being evacuated from the towns of Izium, Kupiansk and Veliky Burluk.

Ukraine this week announced it had regained control of more than 20 settlements in the Kharkiv region, including the small city of Balakliya.

Posts on social media showed the people of Balakliya crying and smiling, hugging and kissing Ukrainian soldiers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday declined to comment on the alleged recapture of Balakliya, referring all questions about it to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Ginchev confirmed on Friday that “Balakliya is, in fact, not under our control.” He said that “difficult battles” were ongoing in the city and that Russian forces were trying to expel the Ukrainian army.

VIEW | Survived the relentless shelling of Mykolaiv, Ukraine:

Survived months of shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Regular shelling has eliminated most of the population of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, a city located on the southern coast of the country. The rest are surviving with the help of foreign aid. They say they’re scared, but hopeful.

The Ukrainian National Guard on Friday also confirmed the recapture of Volokhiv Yar, a village 19 kilometers from Balakliya.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Ukrainian television on Friday that Ukrainian forces are trying to regain control of Kupianksk – an important city in the Kharkiv region through which Russian troops in the region are stationed. get all their supplies.

“It’s an important transport hub that we need to recapture and then see if we should go north or a little further south, thus dividing this group of Russian troops,” Podolyak said. and prevent them from replenishing supplies. .

Helicopters and warplanes were lined up across the vast plains of the Donetsk region, with the jets heading towards Izium, close to where Ukrainian forces were carrying out a counterattack in the area. Kharkiv. Jets fired flares while black smoke billowed in the distance.

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