Ukraine’s nuclear agency says Russian rockets have damaged part of a giant Russian-controlled nuclear power plant, but there has been no radiation leak.
Enerhoatom said a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line had been damaged at the Zaporizhzhia plant – Europe’s largest – in southern Ukraine.
Local Russian-appointed officials blamed Ukraine for shelling earlier.
Ukraine also accuses Russian forces of firing rockets at civilian areas from the site, employing “terror tactics”.
“Every morning we wake up and see that they have hit only residential homes,” a local businessman told the BBC.
The BBC was unable to verify the reported damage at the nuclear plant. Enerhoatom says there were two rounds of Russian rocket fire on Friday, which prompted the site’s operators to disconnect a reactor from the power grid.
Enerhoatom said “there is a risk of hydrogen leakage and dispersal of radioactive particles”.
“The fire danger is high. Currently there are no injuries,” it added.
Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia plant in March but kept its Ukrainian employees. Russia controls the plant and surrounding areas, close to Ukrainian-held territory. It consists of six pressurised water reactors and stores radioactive waste.
Western officials have sounded the alarm about Russia’s tactics there.
The plant is in the city of Enerhodar, in the south-east of Ukraine along the left bank of the River Dnieper (Dnipro in Ukrainian).
The Russian-appointed officials in Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces shelled the plant twice on Friday “from the opposite bank of the Dnieper”. “The second time the nationalists managed to hit the target – shells landed in the plant’s industrial site,” their statement said.
The plant’s Moscow-installed management was quoted by Russia’s state-run Interfax news agency as saying two of the plant’s power lines had been hit by a Ukrainian artillery strike, causing a fire.
It is not clear how many power lines still operate at the plant, and the contrasting claims have not been independently verified.
Earlier, in its daily intelligence update, the UK defence ministry said Russia was using the area to launch attacks – taking advantage of the “protected status” of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk of overnight attacks from Ukrainian forces.
The head of the UN’s nuclear agency, Rafael Grossi, warned this week that the plant was “completely out of control”.