Grass caught fire in the pastures, after which the fire spread to power lines and short-circuited the entire network.
The inhabitants of Buenos Aires and the surrounding provinces of Argentina were left without electricity due to a fire that damaged a high-voltage line and later disabled the Atucha I nuclear power plant. According to the national newspaper El Cronista, the accident affected more than 6 million people. homes and 20 million people, about 40% of all consumers in all of Argentina.
The fire broke out in the northwest of the country, where there is currently strong heat, and the air temperature reaches almost 40 degrees. Grass caught fire in the paddocks, after which the fire spread to power lines, shorting out the entire network. In turn, this disabled the first power unit at the Atucha nuclear power plant, which has been operating uninterruptedly since June 1974.
Unit 2, commissioned in 2014, has not been operational since last year due to maintenance work. Thus, there are no longer alternatives to feed the affected provinces, and a “national blackout” has been announced in the region.
Argentina’s energy ministry said the circumstances of the incident are being investigated. Atuchi’s operator, Nucleoeléctrica, said that “since the nuclear plant does not have the electricity it generates, it is being closed for security reasons.” Authorities have promised to restore power “to the extent possible” and urge citizens not to leave their homes after dark.
This is the biggest blackout in Argentina in four years. The last similar incident occurred in the country in June 2019. Later, due to an accident in the power lines of the Salto Grande hydroelectric plant, all of Argentina and Uruguay were left without electricity.