Huge nuclear power plant faces 2nd risky power cut in 5 days, and Ukraine says Russia blocking fuel delivery

Kyiv, Ukraine — Russian missile attacks caused a crippled nuclear plant in Ukraine to lose all external power for the second time in five days, increasing the risk of a radiation disaster because electricity is needed to operate critical safety systems, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator said Wednesday. The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant suffered a “blackout” when a missile damaged an electrical substation, leading to the emergency shutdown of the plant’s last remaining outside power source, operator Energoatom reported.
All six of the reactors were stopped earlier due to the war. But they still require electricity to prevent them from overheating to the point of a meltdown that could cause radiation to pour from Europe’s largest nuclear plant. 

Energoatom said diesel generators were supplying the plant but Russian troops had blocked a convoy carrying additional fuel for the back-up equipment.
“Russian shelling and damage to the energy infrastructure associated with the operation of nuclear power plants are the same manifestation of nuclear terrorism as the direct shelling of the (Zaporizhzhia plant) and lead to the same consequences and radiation accident threats,” the company said.

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported, the latest power cut to the Zaporizhzhia facility came after two days of blistering Russian missile and drone attacks on cities across Ukraine. The strikes — Russian retaliation for an attack over the weekend on a strategic bridge linking Crimea and Russia — appeared to be the first act ordered by Vladimir Putin’s new overall Ukraine war commander.

Gen. Sergei Surovikin was handed the reins of Putin’s war machine just a couple days before the missile strikes commenced. His ruthless tactics as a Russian commander in Syria, levelling entire cities in defense of the dictator Bashar Assad, earned him the nickname “General Armageddon” in the Russian press.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions that President Vladimir Putin has declared Russian territory with an illegal land grab. Putin signed a decree a week ago declaring that Russia was taking over the nuclear plant. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void.” 

Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it would continue to operate the plant. 

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