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Russia likely preparing for cold shutdown of Unit No. 5 at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Thursday, 15 June 2023, 18:29

Energoatom, the Ukrainian national nuclear energy generating company, has evidence that Russia is preparing for a cold shutdown of Unit No. 5 at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), which is considered to be the safest mode for a nuclear reactor.

Source: Interfax-Ukraine, quoting Petro Kotin, Head of Energoatom, during his visit to a nuclear power plant on Wednesday, 14 June

Quote from Kotin: "ZNPP staff can initiate a cold shutdown of Unit No. 5 in theory, but they can’t do it in practice, because the Russian forces are controlling the situation. The [Russian-appointed] management of the power plant has so far failed to comply with the order issued by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU), but the information we obtained indicates that they might be preparing to do so."


Details: Kotin said there was hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi would be able to convince Russian occupation forces to ensure the cold shutdown of the power unit.

"Cold shutdown is the safest mode for a power unit to be in under any circumstances," Kotin added.

He also explained that the SNRIU’s decision, issued on 8 June 2023, to implement the cold shutdown of the last of the ZNPP’s functioning power units (which is currently operating in what is known as the hot shutdown mode) was a logical measure in light of the draining of the Kakhovka Reservoir following the explosion at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), which was the primary water source for the ZNPP splash pools.

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that the blowing up of the Kakhovka HPP and the draining of the Kakhovka Reservoir could have put the ZNPP in critical danger if the power plant was still operational.

"Grossi knows about this issue, the fact that the cold shutdown has not been implemented. I hope that when he is there he will be able to exert his influence accordingly. But for now, this is not critical. The crucial question I have now is this: How are we going to bring the power plant back online after its liberation? We will have to find a new way of cooling it. This is another difficult challenge we face," the minister stressed.


  • On 14 June, the SNRIU said that Russian occupation forces at the ZNPP have been obstructing the transfer of Unit No. 5 to a safe cold shutdown, which the SNRIU ordered on 8 June to ensure the safe operation of the ZNPP as water levels in the Kakhovka Reservoir, the primary source of water for the ZNPP splash pools, are falling following the explosion at the Kakhovka HPP.
  • IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi began his visit to Ukraine on 13 June, meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the evening. He arrived at the ZNPP on 15 June, after his visit to the ZNPP had been postponed due to safety concerns.

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