A fire broke out in a training building outside the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday.
US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which provides more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.
A video feed from the plant verified by Reuters showed shelling and smoke rising near a building at the plant compound.
There has been fierce fighting in the area about 342 miles southeast of Kyiv, the mayor of the nearby town of Energodar said in an online post. He said there had been casualties, without giving details.
“As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire,” mayor Dmytro Orlov said on his Telegram channel.
Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, about 62 miles north of Kyiv, which spewed radioactive waste over much of Europe when it melted down in 1986. The Zaporizhzhia plant is a different and safer type, some analysts said.
Energy secretary Granholm said on Twitter that the reactors at Zaporizhzhia were “protected by robust containment structures” and were being “safely shut down”.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian army was “firing from all sides” on the plant.
“Fire has already broke out ... Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!,” he wrote on Twitter.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a tweet that it was “aware of reports of shelling” at the power plant and was in contact with Ukrainian authorities.
As the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two enters its ninth day, thousands are thought to have died or been wounded, one million refugees have fled Ukraine and Russia’s economy has been rocked by international sanctions.