The potential disaster at Europe's largest nuclear reactor is "increasing every day," the city's mayor warned AFP yesterday after Ukraine and Russia traded blame for further shelling surrounding the complex.
Since March, the Russian military has held the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine, and Kyiv has accused Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers and storing weapons there.
Over the past week, multiple attacks on the facility have raised the specter of a nuclear disaster.
"What is occurring there is blatant nuclear terrorism, and it could end at any moment," said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of the city where the plant is located, Energodar.
He told AFP by telephone from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, "The dangers are growing every day."
He stated that mortar fire occurred "every day and night" at the plant.
"The situation is dangerous, and the absence of a de-escalation process is most worrisome," he continued.
Previously, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of nuclear "blackmail" and using the facility to "extremely cynically intimidate people."
In addition, he asserted that Russian troops were "hiding" behind the plant to launch attacks on the Ukrainian-controlled cities of Nikopol and Marganets.
However, pro-Russian officials in occupied districts of Zaporizhia blamed Ukrainian forces for the shelling.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed administration, stated that missiles fell "in the areas located on the banks of the Dnipro river and in the plant" without reporting any injuries or damage.
The river separates the territories controlled by Russia and Ukraine.
Orlov stated that Energodar, which he left at the end of April, was shelled for the first time in the past twenty-four hours, resulting in a massive surge in persons wishing to escape.
He warned that there may not be enough workers to staff the station in the "near future."
This month, Kyiv and Moscow have swapped accusations over multiple shellings of the nuclear power facility, which have sparked concerns about a nuclear catastrophe.
Viktor Shabanin, a resident of the village of Vyshchetarasivka, located on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River from the facility, stated that the new developments had made locals "nervous."
"The wind frequently blows in our direction. "Therefore, the radiation will travel directly to us and then into the water," the 57-year-old explained.
Sunday, AFP correspondents on the ground heard air raid sirens and distant bombings but reported no new combat in the vicinity of the plant.
Thursday, the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation and warned of a "grave" crisis in Zaporizhzhia.
The worry over Zaporizhzhia has brought back unpleasant memories of the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, which occurred in Ukraine while it was still a part of the Soviet Union and sent radioactive dust and ash over Europe.
Anastasiya Rudenko claims that her deceased husband, who worked to sanitize the Chernobyl disaster zone, died of bladder cancer in 2014 due to radiation exposure.
The 63-year-old man told AFP, "We could meet the same fate as the people of Chernobyl."
There is nothing positive about the current situation, and we do not know how it will finish. Ukraine, backed by Western partners, has sought a demilitarized zone around the nuclear plant and the departure of the Russian military.
UN grain ready for shipment
Russian soldiers attempting to advance their offensive near the Dnipro in the southern province of Kherson are under pressure, according to a Ukrainian legislator who spoke yesterday.
Regional lawmaker Sergiy Khlan stated that the Russians' use of pontoons falls short of their requirements and that command centers are being relocated because they fear being cut off from supplies.
In his daily address yesterday, Zelensky supported the concept of a blanket ban on visas for all Russian travelers by the European Union, which is being considered by the Czech Republic, which now holds the rotating EU presidency.
"Every day, more states and politicians are entering the dialogue as it expands. This should ultimately result in proper decisions." He also stated that the Ukrainian parliament would "soon" decide whether to extend martial law.
After a Russian naval blockade and Kyiv's port-mining prohibited Ukrainian grain from being traded on global markets, the war's skyrocketing food costs have been a significant consequence.
Last month, a historic agreement between Russia and Ukraine, negotiated by Turkey and the United Nations, established safe corridors for the resumption vital grain supplies.
Yesterday, Kyiv announced that the first vessel chartered by the United Nations to deliver grain from Ukraine to alleviate the global food crisis had been filled with 23,000 tonnes of wheat and is ready to depart.
The Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, stated that the MV Brave Commander, now docked in the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi, will transport 23,000 tonnes of wheat to Africa.