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Ukraine: nuclear plant’s cooling ponds stable despite emptying reservoir

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KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Kakhovka reservoir has lost nearly three-quarters of its volume of water since the Kakhovka dam was destroyed, but cooling ponds at the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are stable and high enough, the environment minister said on Monday.

Kyiv says Russia blew up the dam in southern Ukraine last week, leading to catastrophic flooding. Russia has blamed the destruction on Ukraine.

The nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, is under Russian occupation and lies upstream on the banks of the reservoir. It has its own ponds to keep its reactors cool even though they are not producing power.

“Regarding the power plant, the water level in the plant’s ponds is stable and sufficient to meet the plant’s needs. The situation is now under control,” Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets said on Ukrainian television.

The United Nations atomic watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi is expected to visit the plant this week. He said on Sunday that the watchdog needed access to check a significant discrepancy in measurements of the water level at the reservoir.

Ukrainian nuclear authorities say the plant’s cooling ponds are separate from the reservoir, that they can be refilled by wells in the area and that the water in the pond evaporates slowly because the reactors are not producing power.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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