Russia says Chernobyl, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants being run by Ukrainian staff

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The Ukrainian nuclear power plants at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, both now under the control of Russian forces, are being run and managed by their Ukrainian staff, Russia’s atomic energy agency Rosatom said on Saturday, according to the RIA news agency.

Rosatom’s statement said an external power supply was being restored to the defunct Chernobyl plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, with the help of Russian specialists.

It also said activities to ensure safety at the plants were being carried out in coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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Ukraine had warned of an increased risk of a radiation leak from Chernobyl if its high-voltage power line, damaged in fighting, was not repaired.

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The Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said on Friday that staff at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, were under strong psychological pressure from the Russians present.

The IAEA said this week that it had lost touch with remote systems monitoring nuclear material at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, and IAEA chief Rafael Grossi voiced concern that staff might be working under undue pressure.

-Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Potter and Clelia Oziel

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