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Ukraine restores power to Russia-occupied nuclear plant

FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine reconnected the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to its external power supply on Monday after a brief outage that had left it reliant on emergency generators.

Back-up diesel generators had earlier kicked in at the plant in southern Ukraine to ensure nuclear fuel was kept cool and prevent a potential disaster.

Each side blamed the other for the power outage. A Russia-installed local official said Ukraine had disconnected a power line and Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom said the problem was caused by Russian shelling.

Announcing that repair work had been carried out, Ukrainian national grid operator Ukrenergo said: "The station is switching (back) to power supply from the Ukrainian power system."

The incident had alarmed Rafael Grossi, the head of the United Nations nuclear energy watchdog, who said the nuclear safety situation at the plant was "extremely vulnerable" and underlined the need for international protection.

Even though the six reactors are shut down at the plant, they still need a constant supply of electricity to keep the nuclear fuel inside cool and prevent a possible meltdown.

The plant, which lies in an area of Russian-occupied southern Ukraine near front lines along the Dnipro River, is Europe's biggest nuclear power station and the area has been repeatedly hit by shelling.

Energoatom said it was the seventh time power had been cut to the plant since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukraine said the latest Russian attacks had cut off electricity to nearly 250,000 consumers in the Zaporizhzhia region but that power had been restored to most of them.

Ukrenergo said power was also being restored to consumers in the Dnipropetrovsk region after overnight Russian air strikes.

(Additional reporting by Dan Peleschuk in Kyiv and by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne, Editing by Timothy Heritage)