As Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of shelling areas around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s nuclear company Energoatom said on Saturday the danger of a hydrogen or radioactive leak at the battered power station is high.

Russian troops have occupied the plant in southern Ukraine and according to Energoatom, have “repeatedly shelled” the site over the past day.

“As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high,” Energoatom said on Telegram, Fox News reported.

The company said that as of midday the plant “operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards,” RTE Ireland reported.

A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia plant on May 1.
A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia plant on May 1.
AP

The plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, was knocked offline on Thursday before Ukrainian workers at the Russian-occupied plant were able to get it back in operation.

In the ongoing back and forth Saturday, Russia’s defense ministry claims that Ukrainian forces shelled near the station three times, while Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces fired missiles and artillery on areas across the river from Zaporizhzhia.

As fears increased that the fighting could trigger a catastrophe — Ukranian officials started handing out iodine tablets to residents on Friday — International Atomic Energy Agency Director Gen. Rafael Grossi said he expects a team of inspectors to reach the plant within days.

“I remain engaged in active & intense consultations w/ all parties to organize & lead an @IAEAorg mission to ZNPP very soon, hopefully in the next few days,” the IAEA tweeted. “As y’day’s sudden loss of the external power line showed, IAEA’s presence at the site is urgently needed.”

Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17.
Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17.
AFP via Getty Images

“We need to go. And we are going to be there, hopefully [within] days,” Grossi said.





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