KYIV – The Ukrainian government has urged citizens not to panic or hoard iodine tablets following President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s allegations that Russia plans a radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility.
Zelensky’s warning has put many Ukrainians on edge, leading to a surge in demand for iodine at pharmacies across the country.
The Russian government dismissed Zelensky’s claims as a “lie,” but the Ukrainian health ministry advised citizens not to panic and not to play into the hands of the enemy.
In a statement, the ministry compared Russia to a “monkey with a grenade,” cautioning that anything could be expected from the terrorist country.
Additionally, the ministry emphasised the dangers of incorrectly administering iodine, stating that it could even prove fatal.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Igor Klymenko assured the public that authorities are closely monitoring the situation and that specialists are prepared for various scenarios.
A radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere, increasing the risk of thyroid cancer, as witnessed after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Iodine tablets can help prevent the concentration of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland, facilitating its natural elimination from the body.
While there were no signs of panic buying at pharmacies in Kyiv on Friday, the demand for iodine tablets has significantly increased.
Ukrainians react to Zelensky’s nuclear statement
Although caution prevails among citizens, Maria Dudar, a 21-year-old pharmacy employee, emphasized that there is no panic.
Kyrylo Zalunin, a 37-year-old resident, acknowledged the health ministry’s recommendations but expressed his belief that overreacting to such statements could lead to unnecessary anxiety.
Oksana Zavgorodnia, a 52-year-old resident of Kyiv, echoed the sentiment of many Ukrainians, stating that they are tired of living in fear and are hoping for the best.
Meanwhile, concerns for the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant have persisted since the beginning of the Russian invasion, particularly following the destruction of a dam that provided cooling water to the facility.
The United Nations nuclear chief, Rafael Grossi, held discussions with the head of Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, in Kaliningrad, Russia’s European enclave.
However, no breakthroughs or announcements resulted from their meeting regarding the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
As tensions continue to escalate, Ukrainians remain vigilant, and the international community closely observes the developments in the region.
RosGwen24 News/ additional information accessed via AFP