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Ukraine on Friday said it had restored a “stable power supply” to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) after more shelling this week damaged electrical lines and it off from the country’s power grid.
“Thanks to this, stable energy supply and safe functioning of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities and other important facilities located on the ZNPP site have been ensured,” Ukraine’s electricity transmission agency, Ukrenergo, said in a statement translated by Interfax.
The news comes one day after the emergency protection systems were triggered when two operating reactor units were disconnected from the power grid when power lines were damaged by shelling.
Ukraine’s nuclear company Energoatom applauded the development and called the workers at the plant “rightful heroes” in a Telegram post.
The nuclear power plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March but Ukrainian staff have maintained the plant’s operations.
It remains unclear who fired upon the nuclear plant but both Ukraine and Russia have pointed the blame at each other, and officials continue to fear that further damage to the plant could prompt a nuclear disaster.
The U.S. State Department stopped short of specifically blaming Russian troops for the attack Thursday.
“Russia’s shelling and seizure of Ukraine’s power plants and infrastructure are part of its strategy to create energy crises in Europe,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “The situation at ZNPP is the result of Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, its control of and dangerous military presence at the power plant, and its unwillingness to turn control of the plant back to Ukraine for safe and secure operations.”
According to the Friday statement by Ukrenergo, crews are continuing to work at the plant to restore power to another main power line which will further “increase the safety of the power plant.”
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has pushed for weeks to gain access to the plant to ensure its stability amid a series of damaging shelling.
“Almost every day there is a new incident at or near the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement Thursday evening. “We can’t afford to lose any more time.”
Grossi said he is “determined” to lead a mission to the ZNPP within the “next few days to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation” at the plant.
But it remains unclear when he will be able to securely enter the plant amid Russia’s continued war in Ukraine.