NIKOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the middle of the fighting in Ukraine was temporarily knocked offline Thursday because of fire damage to a transmission line, causing a blackout across the region and heightening fears of a catastrophe in a country still haunted by the Chernobyl disaster.
The complex, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, has been occupied by Russian forces and run by Ukrainian worker s since the early days of the 6-month-old war. Ukraine alleges Russia is essentially holding the plant hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the facility.
On Thursday, the plant was cut off from the electrical grid after fires damaged the last operating regular transmission line, according to Ukraine’s nuclear power agency, Energoatom. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Russian shelling and said the plant’s emergency backup diesel generators had to be activated to supply power needed to run the plant.