Russian forces fired missiles and artillery on areas held by Ukraine across the river from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, authorities said Saturday as concern persisted about safety at the Russian-controlled plant after it was temporarily knocked offline. Grad missiles and artillery shells hit the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets, each about 6 miles and across the Dnipro River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region.
Russian forces occupied the nuclear plant complex early in the war in Ukraine, and Ukrainian workers have kept it running. Each side has repeatedly accused the other of shelling the complex, raising fears that the fighting could.
State energy operator Energoatom said Saturday there was a risk of a radioactive leak at the plant, the AFP news agency reported.
“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,” the agency said on Telegram, according to AFP.
Authorities began distributing iodine tablets Friday to residents who live near the plant in case of a radiation leak. The move came a day after the plant wasbecause of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line.
Recent satellite images from Planet Labs showed fires burning around the complex over the last several days.
The U.N.’s atomic energy agency has been trying to send a team in to inspect and help secure the plant. Officials said preparations for the visit were underway, but it remained unclear when it might take place.
Ukraine has claimed Russia is using the power plant as a shield by storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it. Moscow, for its part, accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the nuclear complex.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, one person was killed and another wounded in Russian firing in the Mykolaiv region, local government officials said. Mykolaiv city is an important Black Sea port and shipbuilding center.
The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said Saturday that two people were killed in Russian firing on the city of, a significant target for Russian and separatist forces seeking to take control of the parts of the region they do not already hold.