Disconnection raises fears over safety at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Network data from NetBlocks confirm significant disruption to telecommunications and internet service in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, southeast Ukraine from the morning of 4 March 2022, as Russian forces approached the facility. Further disconnections have subsequently been tracked limiting mobile connectivity in the region, leaving the site largely isolated as Russia moves to reinforce its position.

The plant’s online radiation monitoring platform at npp.zp.ua also became unavailable with the service displaying an error from the 4th of March onward.

On the morning of Sunday 6 March 2022, further internet disruptions were registered affecting cellular connectivity in Energodar, the city supporting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, as residents reported a widespread loss of mobile service:

Later on Sunday 6 March 2022, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it was no longer able to receive “reliable information” from the nuclear plant, citing the contravention of number 7 of the indispensable pillars of the agency: “There must be reliable communications with the regulator and others.”

On 8 March, the IAEA raised additional concerns over the loss of telemetry transmissions from the mothballed Chernobyl nuclear power plant:

The latest disconnections have raised concerns over nuclear security, and come amid a series of outages and network disruptions as Russia targets telecommunications infrastructure and as power is lost in regions seeing the heaviest combat.

Work is ongoing to assess the incidents and their contexts. Telecoms disruptions in Ukraine have so far been attributed to power outages, cyberattacks, sabotage, and kinetic impacts.

What’s happening in Ukraine?

Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced military mobilization on the morning of Thursday 24 February 2022, and artillery rounds were fired while troops moved into Kharkiv about 25 miles from the Russian border. As the security situation deteriorated over the subsequent days Ukrainian authorities advised civilians to get off the streets and seek shelter.

Further reading:

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Methodology

NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages may have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.


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