Ukraine gears up for winter by repairing nuclear plants

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, is seen in the background of the shallow Kakhovka Reservoir after the dam collapse, in Energodar, Russian-occupied Ukraine, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. The plant has been under Russian occupation since 2022. (AP Photo/Libkos)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Ukraine’s national nuclear power company is repairing and carrying out maintenance on its nuclear reactors as the country prepares for another winter at war.

Nuclear power plants in Kyiv-controlled territories will be at full capacity to supply electricity before winter, Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom told AFP on Tuesday.

“We will enter winter with all nine reactors at full capacity,” Energoatom President Petro Kotin said, adding that four reactors currently under repair will be operational before November, with a total output of nearly 7,600 megawatts.

Ukraine has three nuclear power plants with a total of nine reactors on the territory it controls. A fourth plant, the largest in Europe located in Zaporozhye, has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022.

The Zaporozhye plant “produces 6,000 megawatts so it is very important to regain control and there will be no problem” in supplying electricity to Ukraine, Kotin added.

He explained that nuclear power plants under Ukrainian control “were not directly targeted” by the Russian bombings, saying he was not surprised by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafale Grossi’s claims that the agency’s experts had found no explosives on the roof of the Zaporozhye plant.

In early July, Ukraine accused Moscow of preparing a “provocation”, with the military claiming that objects similar to explosive devices had been “placed on the roofs of reactors 3 and 4” at the occupied plant. Kotin explained that IAEA experts “had very limited access, on the roof of two units (out of six)”.

Before the Russian invasion began, Ukraine owned 15 reactors that supplied power to the entire country. Nine of them had problems operating and Ukraine did not have enough power.

After the Russians seized the Zaporozhye plant, they suspended operations at five of the reactors. Kotin said the Russians kept reactor 5 hot for more than a year. According to the rules, the reactor must be repaired after one year.

There are special rules about containment vessels, equipment, piping, safety valves, and all the components that can’t operate for such a long period. Kotin added that five reactors have already been repaired and the other four are planned in the next period. He said that the maintenance operation is running smoothly.

Ukraine now has 5,400 megawatts of operational capactiy. After the completion of the repair process another 7,400 megawatts will enter the national power system.

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