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 repeatedly accused each other of imperiling the structural integrity and day-to-day operations of the plant, which Russia seized in the early days of the invasion. Ukrainian workers are still running the plant under the watch of Russian forces.
Rising concerns of a catastrophe at the largest nuclear energy plant in Europe have added fresh urgency to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to allow International Atomic Energy inspectors to safely examine the facility as the devastating war rages on with no end in sight.
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."