Reported Russian shelling of Europe's largest nuclear plant has led to fear of a possible radiation leak in the area. Andriy Tuz, a spokesperson for the Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar in southeastern Ukraine sent word to Ukrainian television reporters that shells were falling directly on the plant, setting fire to one of the facility's six reactors, according to AP News.
According to a government official contributing to the AP News report, "elevated levels of radiation were detected near the plant, which provides about 25% of Ukraine's power generation."
Plant spokesman Tuz is stating that firefighters are unable to get near the flames as they're being shot at, which makes the situation even more precarious.
"We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire," Tuz said in a video statement. "There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe."
Prior to the shelling which resulted in the nuclear plant fire, Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Enerhodar gave word that "Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city's outskirts," according to AP News. It was further reported by The Ukrainian state atomic energy company that Russian military forces had been spotted heading toward the nuclear plant, and that the sounds of warfare could be heard.
"A threat to world security!!! As a result of relentless shelling by the enemy of the buildings and blocks of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire!!!" Orlov posted to Facebook in the early hours of Friday morning local time, as reported by CNN.
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"Many young men in athletic clothes and armed with Kalashnikovs have come into the city. They are breaking down doors and trying to get into the apartments of local residents," the statement from Energoatom quoted by AP News said.
"Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!" Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet late Thursday.
To put this event into geographic perspective, The Zaporizhzhia plant is about 325 miles (520 kilometers) southeast of Chernobyl.