Operator of Damaged Ukraine Nuclear Station Issues Stark Warning Amid Shelling

Ukraine’s state-run energy operator warned Saturday that “there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances” from the country’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as shelling in the Russian-occupied area continues, despite international pleas for a ceasefire.

“As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged,” Energoatom said in a statement, cautioning that “the fire hazard is high” and that the plant “operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards.”

The firm’s statement came two days after fire damage disconnected the massive nuclear complex from Ukraine’s power grid for the first time in the facility’s history, heightening fears of a Chernobyl-like disaster.

Russia and Ukraine have been accused of each other repeatedly of threatening the structural integrity and day to day operations of the plant. The plant was seized by Russia in the early days after the invasion. The plant is still being run by Ukrainian workers under the supervision of Russian forces.

There are rising concerns about a disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. As the conflict continues unabated, negotiations between Russia & Ukraine have become more urgent to allow International Atomic Energy inspectors access to the facility.

The New York Times reported Saturday that “Russia had given its approval to the inspection team and indicated that it had acceded to Ukraine’s demand that the mission originate in territory it controls rather than in Russian-occupied land.”

“A list of the team’s members seen by The New York Times includes the nuclear agency’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, and 13 other experts from mostly neutral countries,” according to the newspaper. “Neither the United States nor Britain, countries that Russia scorns as unfairly biased because of their strong support for Ukraine, is represented.”