Aug 27, 2022 - World

Ukraine nuclear agency warns of hydrogen, radioactive leaks at Zaporizhzhia plant

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen as Russian military arrives.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency

Ukraine's nuclear agency warned there's a risk of hydrogen and radioactive leaks at the Zaporizhzhia plant after suffering shelling damage, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Both Ukraine and Russia have been warning that continued shelling could cause a radioactive disaster at the plant, which is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.

Driving the news: "As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the power plant has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high," the agency Energoatom said in a statement, per Reuters.

  • Energoatom said it thought Russia, which is currently in control of the power plant, was planning a "large-scale provocation" at the site.
  • The agency accused Russia of shelling the plant Friday, per the New York Times.
  • Russia, meanwhile, said Ukraine had started at a "provocation" there.

The big picture: Ukraine and Russia have been accusing each other of preparing a "false flag" attack on the plant. The countries also blamed each other for shelling around the plant.

  • On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a near "radiation accident" at the power plant.
  • Multiple countries condemned the recent military activity near Zaporizhzhia, demanding Russia remove its military presence there.

State of play: The Zaporizhzhia power plant was recently reconnected to the Ukrainian power grid after it temporarily lost connection, which triggered the emergency protection systems for the plant's two reactor units, Axios' Jacob Knutson reports.

  • Zelensky said in an address Friday that "the situation remains very risky and dangerous."
  • "Any actions by Russia that could trigger the shutdown of the reactors will again put the plant one step away from disaster," he said.

What's next: Zelensky called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the plant as soon as possible. The agency plans to inspect the plan next week.

  • According to the New York Times, Energoatom said Russia was putting pressure on the plant's staff before the IAEA's visit “to prevent them from disclosing evidence about the crimes of the occupiers at the plant and its use as a military base.”

Go deeper: Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant reconnected to power grid

Go deeper