What to know about Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Russian-occupied Ukraine on Aug. 19. (AP)

Rocket and mortar attacks near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine have raised fears of a potential radioactive disaster there for weeks, prompting world leaders and even Pope Francis to plead for calm.

Russian forces control the plant, which is connected to Ukraine’s power grid. But frequent blackouts have fueled concerns about a possible nuclear meltdown.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Aug. 28.

Moscow and Kyiv have each blamed the other for the deteriorating conditions at Zaporizhzhia, the largest facility of its kind in Europe. But in a potential sign of progress, a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency was allowed access to the site on Sep. 1.

Now, at least two IAEA inspectors will establish a “permanent presence” at Zaporizhzhia to monitor the plant’s safeguard mechanisms, even as the war continues to rage nearby. On Tuesday, the agency released its first report on the situation at Zaporizhzhia ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting, warning that ongoing shelling in the area represents “a constant threat to nuclear safety and security... that may lead to radiological consequences.”

U.N. nuclear agency heads to Zaporizhzhia as attacks raise fear of disaster

Global anxiety over the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continues to mount as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of firing at the site. (Video: The Washington Post)

Warnings of attack on Ukraine nuclear plant set the world on edge

Here’s what to know about the Zaporizhzhia plant and the risks of fighting there: