Ukraine, Zappos Nuclear Power Station, Joanna Cassis discussed on Morning Edition

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Fighting around a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine is raising fears of a nuclear accident, and with it the risk of radiation exposure far outside Ukraine. Yeah, think about this for a minute. Russian forces have occupied this plan since March and in the last week they have used the nuclear power plant as a place from which to stage attacks against Ukrainians. Joining us now to bring us up to speed is NPR's Joanna cassis, who's in the Ukrainian city of nipro, hi Joanna. Hi, Leila. So what's the latest on the fighting at the plant? Well, we know that the attacks really picked up about a week ago as Ukrainian forces continued to counter offensive to take back the occupied region of her son in the south. Ukraine says Russia is responding by lobbing rockets and missiles from perhaps the most sensitive occupied territory, the Zappos nuclear power station. Experts say it's the first act of nuclear power complex caught up in the crossfire of a war. And Ukraine says Russia has weaponized this plant by effectively using its territory as a military base, Russian forces at the plant are now repeatedly shelling nearby cities controlled by Ukraine. Now you went to one of the towns that's getting hit, right? What are people saying there? Yeah, this weekend I was in the city of nickel, which is across the river from the Zappos nuclear power station, the plan to roughly like 12, 13 miles away. And you can see it's buildings from Nicole. A city council official Natalia horrible, as she told me that residents do not have a problem with having the plant as a neighbor. And that for years for decades, they admired the Ukrainians who used to run it. The blood used to be run by professionals. People we knew. Now outsiders have taken it over and we don't know what they are doing. And what it will lead to. What it has led to is Russian rockets hitting homes and Nicole nearly every day. And people aren't just freaking out about that. They're worried that a stray rocket could hit a reactor at the plants, spark a fire and release radiation. I spoke to a grandmother named tamada, and she says she has nightmares about this. All of us are just scared all the time. I'm out. I have diabetes. If anything happens, I'll have time to lie on the floor and close my eyes. Oh, that's gut wrenching to hear her talk about that fear. And of course, the fears of a nuclear disaster don't stop in Ukraine, the international community is worried about this as well, right? Yeah, so Nicole residents are dealing with those fears, either by leaving the city or by stocking up on potassium iodide pills to protect themselves from radiation. They still remember the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and so does the rest of the world. The rest of the world remembers out catastrophe, and they do not want it repeated, at least 40 countries have called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from the plant and the U.S. and the European Union want to create a demilitarized zone there. As NPR's Joanna kassis, thanks so much for

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