The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid after damage from fires caused by shelling. Photo courtesy of Russian Emergencies Ministry/EPA-EFE
Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Ukrainian officials said Thursday that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was disconnected from the country's national grid, after fires from shelling damaged the sole transmission line.
The fire caused much of southern Ukraine to lose electricity for part of the day, with both Ukrainian and Russian officials blaming the other side for the power outage, according to the Financial Times.
Energoatom, Ukraine's atomic energy regulator, said that the fires were started at a nearby coal mine after Russian troops damaged a power line, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"The actions of the invaders caused a complete disconnection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from the power grid -- for the first time in the history of the plant," Energoatom said on Thursday
Russian state news agency Ria, however, said that Ukrainian troops damaged the power lines and then cut the plant off from the grid.
"Today, as a result of enemy shelling, the city was left completely without electricity and water," Dmitry Orlov, the exiled mayor of Enerhodar, where the power plant is located, wrote on Telegram. "Now we are finding out how critical the situation is."
The power plant, which has been controlled by Russian troops since early March, has been at the center of concerns from international atomic energy officials that repeated fighting could trigger a disastrous accident.
Disconnecting the plant from the grid increases the risk of a failure of the electric cooling system for its reactors.
The White House has called on Russia to agree to a demilitarized zone around the plant and negotiations are under way to have UN inspectors visit the plant, The Guardian reported.