Under threat nuclear plant will cease to use US fuel

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in southern Ukraine, which continues to be viewed as a major potential risk by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),  will stop using US-produced nuclear fuel as quickly as possible, according to Russian officials.

Only last month, following another blackout at the plant, the head of the IAEA appealed for a protection zone around the plant, warning of the dangers of complacency.

Fierce fighting for months near the facility has international officials worried about a nuclear disaster, with the potential for radiation spreading far beyond the immediate war zone.

ZNPP, which has been held by Russia since early in the invasion of Ukraine, can run off diesel generators for 10 days. Nuclear plants need constant power to run cooling systems and avoid a meltdown, and fears remain about the possibility of a catastrophe at Zaporizhzhia.

The plant is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, mostly built in the Soviet times, and originally used Russian nuclear fuel, but Ukraine gradually switched to supplies from US supplier Westinghouse after its first conflict with Russia in 2014.

Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the general director of Russian nuclear energy firm Rosenergoatom which is now in charge of the plant, told news agency Interfax that it had about four years’ worth of US-made fuel in reserves.

However, he added that Russian management will now seek to replace that fuel with the Russian one as quickly as possible as it considers its own technologies superior.