The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear company – Energoatom – told CNN that the power units at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are still in a state of cooling while work continues to restore power lines from the plant.
Speaking to CNN via Skype, Petro Kotin said all seven lines connected to the station had been damaged, switching to what he called “island mode” – where the station provides electricity only for itself.
“We tried to prolong the operation of one of our power units for as long as possible, even in conditions that were operating in island mode. We were successful for three days,” he told CNN.
Cotten said that only one of the six power units was still operating, and it was providing the plant’s needs — the electricity needed for the pumps that cooled the nuclear material. He said the reactors are “full of nuclear material and fuel and there are six pools located near the reactors in each power unit. They need constant cooling.”
“The danger is that in the absence of a power source, the pumps will stop and there will be no cooling, and in about an hour and a half to two hours this fuel in the reactor will collapse,” he added. .
Cotten reiterated that in the absence of an external source of energy, diesel generators could run. “From today, diesel generators can work there for ten days.”
“We are also doing our best to secure additional supplies. But we understand that it is very difficult to bring anything there. The railways are damaged, so this can only be done by vehicles,” he said.
“If there is now a loss of external energy, then we will only have one option and that is diesel generators,” he added.
Cotten said representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ international atomic energy agency, remained at the station. “They have meetings with the plant management twice a day, so they have all the current information on the operation of the plant,” he said.
On the IAEA’s proposal to create a safety zone around the station, Cotten said: “We don’t fully understand what exactly this safety zone means.”
He reiterated the Ukrainian government’s position that the plant should be returned to Ukrainian control and that the power plant itself and the surrounding area should be demilitarized.
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