Drone attacks on the Raduga substation, which serves the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP) on 3 July injured eight workers who were repairing damage done by a previous attack on the substation on 21 June. Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev told reporters that three drone strikes hit the substation in the plant operators’ town of Energodar, which was also affected. Likhachev said the timing of the “was chosen maliciously – it was at that time that a team of our guys was working”.

The ZNPP press service said that, as a result of the attack, “the regular power supply scheme of Energodar was disrupted, as well as the regular functioning of the station’s facilities, such as the transportation shop, printing house, administration of logistics and supplies, which were left without power supply”. ZNPP said on its Telegram channel that “nuclear safety measures were being “implemented in full”.

According to Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organisations in Vienna, this was the first deliberate attack of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the station’s employees. Likhachev said the eight people injured were receiving the necessary assistance. The condition of one of the injured employees was assessed as moderately serious, while the others were in mildly serious condition, the plant’s press service said.

ZNPP Director Yuriy Chernichuk subsequently said the number of injured had risen to nine. He stressed that the employees were provided with assistance, and eight people were treated on an outpatient basis. One was hospitalized with a moderate traumatic brain injury.

The Russian appointed Governor of Zaporizhia region. Yevgeny Balitsky, said that the attack had left Energodar largely without electricity – a situation made worse the following day by damage to a nearby power line outside its borders. As a result, on 5 July, the press service of Zaporizhia NPP announced that after the restoration of the city’s power supply the introduction of a temporary schedule of power outages in Energodar was necessary “due to the critical situation”. As soon as the specialists restore the power supply the shutdown schedules will be cancelled, it added.

The same day, the Chairman of the Commission on Sovereignty and support for veterans of the Public Chamber of Russia, Vladimir Rogov, reported that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had again launched several artillery strikes in the area of Energodar’s Luch which had been totally destroyed on 19 June by previous shelling.

“Dear energodartsy, The Ukrainian Armed Forces again launched several terrorist artillery strikes in the area of the Luch substation. Fortunately, there was no damage or injuries, ” the report says.

Attacks on Energodar’s life support facilities have been underway for two weeks now. On June 19, as a result of an attack by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Luch substation was completely destroyed, and on June 21, the second Raduga city substation was partially damaged. Telegram channel “Our Energodar” said the consequences of the attack were being clarified but there was no further damage or injuries.

In an extensive report on the situation, Lucas Leiroz, a member of the BRICS Journalists Association, and researcher at the Centre for Geostrategic Studies, noted that attacks on ZNPP and Energodar are nothing new,

“Almost daily, drones and artillery shells hit the nuclear facilities, creating a constant fear about the possibility of radioactive accident. The IAEA confirms the frequency of bombings, in addition to having recently stated that there are no Russian weapons around the plant strong enough to generate this type of impact – tacitly corroborating that the attacks come from areas under Ukrainian control.”

He added: “I myself was on a recent press expedition to Zaporozhye and saw the reality on the ground. During my trip, I saw how the plant’s employees are constantly working to prevent the damage caused by the attacks from altering the energy production levels. I had the opportunity to visit some of the plant’s critical facilities, seeing the reactors and some of the units hit by Ukrainian forces. The debris of drones and missiles are on display at the plant, showing that the attacks are carried out with Ukrainian and Western equipment.”

He said the employees explained that it is unlikely that these attacks will cause any kind of leak. “The structure of the plant is extremely strong and prepared for any events. The main problem, however, is explaining these technical details to ordinary people. Experts and observers understand how Ukrainian strikes are useless in causing a leak. However, ordinary people are not aware of how a power plant actually works and therefore tend to fear that there will be some kind of accident. For the residents of Zaporozhye, seeing missiles and drones falling on the plant every day is obviously a reason for fear and terror.”

In his latest update on ZNPP, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said ZNPP had informed IAEA about the latest drone attacks. “The IAEA experts stationed at the ZNPP said they saw thick smoke and heard explosions coming from near the plant’s 750 kilovolt (kV) switchyard after they were told that drones had hit an adjacent forest, starting fires in windy conditions. Firefighters were working to control the flames. The switchyard is located outside the ZNPP site itself. For now, the IAEA experts do not report any impact on-site.” He noted that the 750kV power line as well as a back-up 330 kV line serving ZNPP are still available, “but the situation remains precarious”.

As to the attack on the Raduga substation, IAEA said its experts “were informed that the alleged impact also caused an oil leak from at least one of the two sub-station transformers, damaged the top of one of them as well as a connection line”.

IAEA noted that the drone attacks came less than two weeks after Energodar was left without electricity for 16 hours after reported drone strikes on the Raduga and Luch sub-stations. “It is extremely concerning that these drone attacks are continuing, despite the very clear dangers they present to people in Energodar as well as to safety at the Zaporizhia NPP. They must stop, immediately,” Grossi said.

The IAEA said its experts continued to conduct walkdowns across the site as part of their regular monitoring of nuclear safety and security, including to reactor unit 4, the site’s metrology laboratory, the two fresh fuel storage facilities, several emergency diesel generators, different parts of the reactor safety systems, as well as the ZNPP’s department of non-destructive testing. “The team’s walkdown of the plant’s waterworks facilities, however, was cut short by an air raid alarm.”