Sunday August 28, 2022

Ukraine, Russia trade more blame on threats to nuclear plant

Ukraine, Russia trade more blame on threats to nuclear plant

A view shows a logo of a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia region. Reuters

Fears about the potential for a radiation leak at Europe's largest nuclear power plant persisted on Saturday as both sides traded blame for nearby shelling. Ukraine said Russian forces fired on areas just across the river from the plant and Russia claimed Ukrainian shells hit a building where nuclear fuel is stored.

Authorities were distributing iodine tablets to residents who live near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in case of radiation exposure, which can cause health problems.


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Much of the concern centers on the cooling systems for the plant's nuclear reactors. The systems require power to run, and the plant was temporarily knocked offline Thursday because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line. A cooling system failure could cause a nuclear meltdown.

Russian forces occupied the nuclear plant complex early in the 6-month-old war, but local Ukrainian workers have kept it running. The Ukrainian and Russian governments have repeatedly accused the other of shelling the complex and nearby areas, raising fears of a possible catastrophe.

Ukraine, Russia trade more blame on threats to nuclear plant
An Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuer attends an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17. AFP

Periodic shelling has damaged the power station's infrastructure, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator, Energoatom, said on Saturday. "There are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high,” it said.

The governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said Saturday that Russian Grad missiles and artillery shells hit the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets, each located 10 kilometres (6 miles) across the Dnieper River from the plant.

But Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Ukrainian forces had fired on the plant from Marhanets. Over the past day, 17 Ukrainian shells hit the plant, with four striking the roof of a building that stores nuclear fuel, he said.

It was not immediately possible to verify either account.

Associated Press

 

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