Ukraine loses ALL contact with Chernobyl amid fears Russia-controlled nuclear plant has just 'hours to restore power'
UKRAINIAN authorities have lost all communications with the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, amid fears there are just hours left to restore power to the site.
It comes after power lines to the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster were damaged during fighting between Ukraine and Russia, leaving the plant relying on backup generators to prevent disaster.
The UN's nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Ukraine has told it that it has lost all communications with facilities at Chernobyl in the north of the country.
Russian forces took the site in the opening days of the war.
"Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had lost today all communications with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the day after the Russian-controlled site lost all external power supplies," the IAEA said in a statement.
Previously, there had been contact by email, it added.
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The Director-General of the IAEA Rafael Mariano Grossi said the Agency is aware of reports that power has now been restored to the site, and is looking to confirm them.
Ukraine's state nuclear agency Energoatom says that Ukraine's power plants are operating as normal – but staff in Zaporizhzhia are under "psychological pressure" from Russian troops.
Radiation levels at all plants had not changed, it added.
"Employees of the station are under strong psychological pressure from the occupiers, all staff on arrival at the station are carefully checked by armed terrorists," it said, referring to the Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia – Europe's biggest nuclear power plant.
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"All this negatively affects work and endangers nuclear and radiation safety."
Ukraine's state-run nuclear company Energoatom said a high-voltage power line was damaged in recent fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces after the plant was cut off from the national power grid.
It warned "radioactive substances" could eventually be released if there was no power to cool down the spent nuclear fuel stored at the plant.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba previously said the backup diesel generators at the site only had enough power to keep the plant running for 48 hours.
"After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent," he said on Twitter.
"I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply."
Previously, Ukrainian authorities were closely monitoring the plant and providing updates to the IAEA.
But the loss of communication means experts can no longer provide accurate information about the plant.
It comes as…
- Russian forces are massing near Kyiv as Ukraine is fortifying the capital for a long bloody siege
- Kremlin diplomats accused a pregnant woman of FAKING her injuries after Putin's forces bombed a hospital
- Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned – and its feared Chelsea could fold if he doesn't sell the club in 81 DAYS
- Russia has been accused of nuclear terrorism after bombing a reactor in Kharkiv
- Britain has warned that Russia could use chemical weapons as the invasion continues
- Incredible video shows a Russian armoured column being blitzed as it advances towards Kyiv
- Sanctions continue to bite – and one Russian was seen stocking up with dozens of McDonald's burgers as the company withdrew
On Tuesday, the IAEA warned that systems monitoring nuclear material at Chernobyl's radioactive waste facilities had stopped transmitting data.
A nuclear expert has said there are fears over how quickly power can be restored to the plant.
"Power cuts to nuclear facilities are potentially very dangerous," the expert, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
"The power cut could lead to water in the storage facility evaporating and exposure of spent fuel rods.
"They could eventually melt and that could lead to significant radiation releases.
Chernobyl, which is still radioactive, is around 100km (62 miles) from Kyiv.
In April 1986, its fourth reactor exploded during a botched safety test, unleashing dangerous radiation which spread across much of Europe.
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