On Sunday, March 13, Ukraine Energy company Ukrenergo workers began crucial repairs on the powerline feeding the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the city of Slavutych, both of which have been without power for several days now. Before power could be resupplied, invading Russian forces damaged the line again.
“At 19:07 Ukrenergo started to feed the line to restore the infrastructure of Chornobyl NPP and the city of Slavutych,” the company stated on Facebook.
“However, before the power supply was fully restored, the occupying forces damaged it again. The repair crew of NEC Ukrenergo should head to the occupied territory near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant again, to find and repair new damage to the line. Ukrenergo emphasizes that the Chornobyl NPP is an important facility that cannot be left without a reliable energy supply.”
The risks associated with prolonged lack of power in terms of radiation are not catastrophic but are serious in the long term.
The site was the location of the worst civil nuclear accident in history, and work to decommission the power plant has been incredible. Lack of power puts that in jeopardy.
Ukrenergo and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) consider the crucial risk is for the people still working there – there are 211 workers and guards in the Chornobyl Power Plant right now. They have been working non-stop for three weeks to keep it safe. For the last five days, they have had no power and dwindling supplies.
The IAEA has put forward a framework to take over and provide assistance to run all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities safely and securely. This has been discussed with Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministers Dmytro Kuleba and Sergei Lavrov but has not been accepted yet.
“We can’t afford to lose more time. The IAEA stands ready to act immediately, based on our proposed framework that requires agreement from the parties of the conflict before it can be implemented. We can only provide assistance to Ukraine’s nuclear sites once it has been signed. I’m doing everything I can to make this happen very soon,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement released before the new damages.
The IAEA confirms that radiation levels remain normal and safety systems are still in place throughout Ukraine's nuclear facilities. The agency still doesn’t receive data directly from the monitoring system it had installed at Chornobyl, but it’s getting such data from other nuclear facilities.
Chernobyl, as the power plant is known in the West, is the romanization of the Russian spelling. The romanization of the Ukrainian spelling is Chornobyl, to align with the sources we kept this spelling throughout the article.