Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shellingZaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube/via REUTERS

Ukraine’s state energy operator, Energoatom, said on Saturday that there is a risk of a radioactive leak at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is occupied by Russian troops.

The company accused Moscow's troops of having "repeatedly shelled" the site of the plant in southern Ukraine over the past day.

"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," Energoatom said on Telegram, as quoted by the AFP news agency.

The agency said that as of midday Saturday, the plant "operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards".

Russia's defense ministry accused Ukrainian forces of having "shelled the territory of the station three times" in the past day.

"A total of 17 shells were fired," the ministry said in a communique.

The Zaporizhzhia complex has been occupied by Russian forces and operated by Ukrainian workers since the early days of the six-month-old war.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the nuclear installation, sparking fears of a nuclear accident.

On Thursday, the plant was severed from Ukraine's power network for the first time in its four-decade history due to what Energoatom said were "actions of the invaders". The plant came back online the next day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week agreed for a team of independent inspectors to travel to Zaporizhzhia via Ukraine, in an apparent resolution of a dispute over whether inspectors travel to the plant via Ukraine or Russia.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier this week said its inspectors will visit the Zaporizhzhia plant “within days”.

The UN recently demanded an end to the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Previously, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is “completely out of control.”