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Monday, July 22, 2024

Russia announces timeline for relaunch of Europe’s largest nuclear plant

The Zaporozhye power station could resume operations in 2024, the head of Rosatom has said

Russian nuclear agency Rosatom is looking for ways to reactivate the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) over the next year, the head of the organization said on Thursday. The plant’s six reactors have been idling for months due to concerns over Ukrainian attacks and the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.

“No matter how difficult it has been, we ensured the safe operation of the station,” Rosatom’s director-general, Aleksey Likhachev, told Russia 24. “I think that next year, as the situation develops, we will look for options and opportunities to make this facility actively operational again.”

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Once restarted, the plant will be operated safely, Likhachev told the channel, declaring he had full confidence in both the ZNPP employees and the Russian military and National Guard currently securing the facility.

The ZNPP is Europe’s largest atomic power station. Located in Energodar on the banks of the Dnieper River, it came under the control of Russian troops in March 2022. It nominally remained the property of Ukraine’s state utility, Energoatom, until September that year, when Zaporozhye Region voted to join Russia.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent observers to the ZNPP in September 2022, and has kept staff on the premises ever since. Ukrainian commandos attempted to seize the plant just before the IAEA mission arrived, but were thwarted by Russian troops stationed nearby.

Kiev and Moscow traded accusations about endangering the plant over the summer, after Ukraine launched a major offensive along the Zaporozhye front. Both sides blamed each other for the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam, which emptied out the Dnieper reservoir from which the ZNPP was drawing water for its cooling systems.

Rosatom eventually decided to power down the ZNPP reactors, citing the ongoing Ukrainian artillery, missile, and drone attacks. While the six reactor buildings are sturdy enough to withstand artillery fire, the nearby facility that stores fuel waste is not as protected, and damage to it would release radiation into the surrounding area.

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