VIENNA (Reuters) – The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine plans to resume pumping water from what remains of the massive reservoir behind a nearby dam that burst two weeks ago, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said last week it was unclear whether it would be possible to pump water from the reservoir to cool reactors and spent fuel at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant given how much the reservoir’s level has fallen.
While the plant can fall back on other water sources, including a cooling pond with what the IAEA says is months’ worth of water in it, whatever can be pumped from the reservoir should buy more time before stocks have to be replenished.
“Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) is planning to resume pumping water that still remains accessible despite a major loss of water in the Kakhovka reservoir caused by the destruction of the downstream dam earlier this month,” the IAEA said in a statement.
For the past two weeks Zaporizhzhia has received its cooling water from the reserves of a water outlet from a nearby thermal power plant (TPP). That so-called discharge channel has also been used to replace water in the cooling pond that evaporated, the IAEA said.
“As a result, and in line with expectations, the channel’s water level has been declining by up to 10 centimetres per day and is currently measured at just over 17 metres. The water in this channel is still projected to provide cooling for many weeks,” the IAEA said.
“The ZNPP is now preparing to replenish the ZTPP discharge channel, either by pumping water from the ZTPP inlet channel, which was the normal practice prior to the dam damage, or from a body of water in the ZNPP port,” it added.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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