What would happen if the Ukraine-Russia war caused a nuclear accident?

The UN nuclear watchdog had already warned earlier this month of shelling near the nuclear power plant.

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo)
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo)

Ukraine and Russia accused each other of shelling around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday, which raised concerns that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war could trigger a nuclear disaster.

In the event of an accident at the plant, a radiation cloud would cover part of southern Ukraine and some regions of Russia, according to the Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom on Telegram.

If such an event occurred, Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform recommended to seal all windows and doors, turn off air conditioners and fans as well as to close ventilation ducts. In potentially dangerous areas, residents would need to take measures to seal and pack food, water, linen, documents and valuables.

The UN nuclear watchdog had already warned earlier this month of shelling near the nuclear power plant. Days later, Ukraine accused Russia of using the nuclear plant for deadly rocket attacks.

IAEA officials to visit the plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are said to be visiting the nuclear plant in the next few days, according to Ukrainian and US sources as a result of the recent shelling around the area between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

View of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, August 13, 2022. (credit: Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERS)View of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, August 13, 2022. (credit: Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERS)

Ukraine told the IAEA that while shelling in the area has resumed, all safety systems remain operational and radioactivity is within normal range.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said that he is continuing consultations with all parties to send an IAEA mission to the nuclear plant in the next few days to ensure safety and security in the area, the agency tweeted.

Under Russian control

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest one in Europe, has been under Russian control since its capture on March 4. The European Union condemned Russia's military activities around the power plant and called for the immediate transfer of control of the plant to Ukraine, Ukrinform reported. 

Last Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the world narrowly avoided a radiation disaster as electricity to the power plant was cut for a couple of hours due to Russian shelling in the area.

Moscow has since denied Zelensky's allegations.

Reuters contributed to this report.