A view shows a logo of a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia region. Reuters
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.
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.
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, Ukraineâ€™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,â€ it said.
The governor of Ukraineâ€™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.