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Nuclear Leak Fears Intensify as Russia, Ukraine Exchange Accusations of Shelling Power Plant

The area around the plant has been shelled repeatedly over the past several days.
U.N. nuclear inspectors are nearing a deal to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has faced fresh shelling Saturday. File Photo by Sergei Supinsky/EPA-EFE
U.N. nuclear inspectors are nearing a deal to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has faced fresh shelling Saturday. File Photo by Sergei Supinsky/EPA-EFE

Fears surrounding the possibility of a leak at Europe's largest nuclear plant are intensifying as Russia and Ukraine are exchanging accusations of rocket and artillery strikes at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Despite renewed shelling at the plant over the last several days, its safety systems are operational and radiation levels have not increased, the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency stated Sunday. 

The Zaporizhzhia plant has been under Russian control since shortly after the war began. Last week, the plant was reportedly disconnected from the local power supply due to fires in the area from shelling.

Ukraine's atomic energy agency published a map Sunday of the estimated radiation cloud if an accident occurs at the heavily-contested plant. Residents located in especially dangerous areas are recommended to seal and pack food, water, linen, documents and valuables to prevent radiation in case of an accident.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Sunday accused Ukrainian forces of attacking the plant with shells that fell near reactor fuel and radioactive waste storage facilities, The Associated Press reported.

Ukraine's energy agency warned Saturday, as translated: "As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station was damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and there is a high fire hazard." 

Neither side's claims could be independently verified by the AP.

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