March 11, 2023
On March 9, 2023 The New York Times published a story entitled “The U.N.’s atomic agency denounces complacency over safety at the Zaporizhzhia plant after more Russian shelling”. It was written by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Marc Santora.
In their article they have claimed: “The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog expressed astonishment on Thursday [March 8] about international complacency over safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, where several hours earlier Russian shelling had again cut power to the plant and left workers resorting to using backup generators to maintain safety”. ….
And later: “Russian shelling early Thursday cut the external power lines that supply electricity to the plant’s six reactors, according to Ukraine’s state nuclear company, Energoatom. … If it is impossible to renew the external power supply of the station during this time, an accident with radiation consequences for the whole world may occur,” the company said on Telegram. … The U.N. atomic agency has spent months trying to forge an agreement between Moscow and Kyiv to establish a safety and security zone around the plant. But Ukraine’s energy minister said this week that talks were at a dead end because Russia had refused his government’s demand to withdraw from the plant and hand control of it back to Energoatom. Moscow has placed the plant under the control of its own state nuclear company, Rosatom.”
In another article “Here’s why experts are concerned about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s safety risks” published in the NYT on March 9 and updated the next day Carly Olson noted that Ukraine’s national electric utility, Ukrenergo, said that the plant had been reconnected to the power grid after 11 hours since its disconnection.
Looks reassuring. On the surface.
Especially, the text: “Russia had refused his government’s demand to withdraw from the plant and hand control of it back to Energoatom. Moscow has placed the plant under the control of its own state nuclear company, Rosatom.” Absolutely correct.
But there are several serious and intentional distortions carefully forged for those who do not know realities or do not have enough time to know them.
First, Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Marc Santora also claimed that “there have also been multiple reports of shells landing in and near the plant’s grounds”. Yes, Ukrainian Forces have done that, but the co-authors preferred to silence down such real fact. There have not been any “Russian shelling” of ZNPP on March 8, 2023 or earlier. No confirmation has been made by anybody for all these ‘facts’. No fragments, no photos, no places from where such ‘shelling’ have taken place. It is impossible to shell ZNPP by Russia because its National Guard exercises full control and maintains physical safety of that station, and Russian operators began working at the station since March 4, 2022.
The reality is that on March 8, 2023 and many times earlier in 2022 and 2023 [see enclosed Annex] the station nave been directly shelled by heavy weapons by Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) from the territory located and controlled by Ukraine across Kakhovka Water Reservoir. Mainly, form the outskirts of the cities named Marganets and Nikopol. All of them controlled by AFU before the Special Military Operation and controlled by now.
Second, the co-authors wrote that Russian shelling again “cut power to the plant”. It is a wrong statement. Moscow is not interested in cutting of power at the ZNPP that became Russian property since October 2022.
It was Ukraine who had again cut electric power to the plant supplied from its territory. Because: (a) it is not Ukrainian property; and (b) Kiev is interested in continuation of the next stage of the nuclear blackmail related to the ZNPP [see Annex attached below].
Third, like 2022-2023 IAEA Reports, the co-authors used information exclusively supplied by Ukraine like Ukrainian Prime-Minister and Ukrainian Energoatom, etc, who has invented a lot of false-flag stories since it started armed aggression initially against Donbass on April 13, 2014 and later against Russia – on February 14, 2022.
Fourth, in their story the co-authors never quoted any Russian sources. Why not, at least for a glimpse of objectivity?
Ongoing Ukrainian shelling continues to represent a constant threat to the physical integrity of the ZNPP facilities. It has real implications on daily operations and could give rise to a nuclear incident or accident. As to all six reactor units at the ZNPP currently, by March 10, 2023, some of them are being repaired (Nos.1 and 3), two of them are in cold shutdown (Nos. 2 and 4), and Nos 5 and 6 are operating in a state of hot shutdown in order to produce steam for the plant’s regular operations.
Although ongoing Ukrainian shelling and landmine explosions have not triggered a nuclear tragedy, such incidents continue to present a constant threat to nuclear safety and security. The ZNPP’s physical integrity continues to be severely compromised as a result of frequent and intentional Ukrainian shelling.
Official representative of the Russian Co “Rosenergoatom” Renat Karchaa said that in so doing Kiev intends to complicate the work of the operators at the ZNPP and to recapture it by force.
Damage at the site’s reactor buildings, special facilities housing nuclear fresh and spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, switchyards and spray cooling ponds, as well as further damage to the reactor units’ power supply connections create a real danger to the station.
But the IAEA is still covering up all these multiple shelling of the ZNPP by AFU. The latest IAEA Report issued recently is still politicized.
Strange enough, but the UN Secretary-General who visited Kiev in March 2023 has linked the “Black Sea grain deal” with Ukraine and Russia with the “demilitarization” of the ZNPP by Russia.
According to a short CV enclosed to their article, Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Marc Santora are well-establish professionals. But their story published by the NYT proves that they are not so professional.
Major cases of shelling of the ZNPP by Ukraine
(A) in 2022 the following shelling by Ukraine were recorded:
On 5-7 August several explosions near the electrical switchboard caused the shutdown of the electrical power transformer and two backup transformers; one reactor unit was affected; the emergency protection system of the affected unit was triggered, and diesel generators were put into operation to ensure the power supply for this unit; fire at the nitrogen-oxygen station, quickly extinguished by firefighters; the injury of a staff member working in the area of the dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility; damaged walls, a roof and windows in the area of the spent fuel storage facility, as well as communication cables that were part of its radiation control system, with a possible impact on the functioning of three radiation detection sensors.
On 20-21 August shelling damaged the ZNPP infrastructure, including walkways used by ZNPP staff to access the power units, as well as laboratory and chemical facilities.
On September 4 Ukraine shelled the top of ZNPP special building 1 that houses the fresh nuclear fuel and the solid radioactive waste storage facility, the railway and road in front of reactor building 2, and an elevated walkway for personnel between buildings 2 and 3.
On September 21 Ukrainian shelled the area of the spray cooling ponds for ZNPP Units 5 and 6, damaged one pipe and put the sprays out of service; additionally, some shelling damaged the internal high voltage power line for Unit 6, which caused its diesel generators to start, before it was switched to a backup power line.
On September 11 the last operating unit – Unit 6 of ZNPP – was shut down.
On October 19 the main ZNPP internal backup power line was lost due to Ukrainian shelling at a switchyard of the thermal power plant.
On October 30 a Ukrainian mine explosion damaged the internal high voltage power supply to ZNPP Unit 4, and the unit was switched to backup power lines.
On November 19 Ukrainian shelling hit the spray cooling ponds and the guardhouse at ZNPP.
(B) in 2023 the following shelling by Ukraine were recorded:
On January 26 Ukraine reduced the water level in the Kakhovka Water Reservoir, which provides cooling water for the ZNPP, by 14.6 m. For such purpose AFU shelled several times the dams located before the ZNPP and blocked the water flow to it.
On February 8 Ukraine reduced the water level in the Kakhovka Water Reservoir reduced by 13.9 m.
On February 15 Ukraine reduced the water level in the Kakhovka Water Reservoir reduced 13.98 m.
On March 8 Ukraine shelled the city of Energodar where the ZNPP personal lives, and where the thermal power station is located.
On March 9 Ukraine cut off electricity supply to the ZNPP via Dneprovskaya high-voltage line Kiev controls.
However, The NYT has forgotten to mention all these facts.
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Written by Vladimir P. Kozin