Risk of radioactive leak at Ukraine nuclear plant, operator says

Ukraine’s state energy operator warned there is a risk of a radioactive leak at the country’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid shelling by Russian forces.

Russia has “repeatedly shelled” the site, Europe’s biggest nuclear facility, over recent days, the operator, Energoatom, said in a statement on Saturday.

“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.

“Due to the presence of the Russian military, their weapons, equipment and explosives at the power plant, there are serious risks for the safe operation” of the nuclear facility, it said.

The Russian Defense Ministry countered that Ukraine had fired shells at the plant.

Energoatom said the Russian military at the power plant are preparing for the arrival of a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The team from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog could arrive at the site as early as next week, the New York Times reported. A list of the team’s members seen by newspaper includes the IAEA’s chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi, and 13 other experts from mostly neutral countries, according to the report. Neither the U.S. nor Britain is represented on the team, it said.

Meanwhile, Russia blocked an agreement at the UN that was aimed at bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), reportedly over the wording of a reference to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the text.