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On Thursday, Poland began distributing iodine tablets to various regional firefighters due to concerns about potential radioactive exposure from a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
There were bombings near Zaporizhzhia, the largest plant in Europe during the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, and buildings near the plant’s six reactors were damaged.
If a nuclear emergency occurs, neighboring countries such as Poland would most likely be affected. Iodine is considered a protective substance for the body against conditions that result from radioactive exposure, such as thyroid cancer.
“After the media reported battles near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, we decided … in advance to take protective action to distribute iodine,” Deputy Interior Minister Blazej Pobozy said on a radio broadcast, according to Reuters.
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“I would like to reassure all citizens that these are routine and preventive actions that must protect us in the event of a situation that … I hope does not happen”.
On Thursday, the city of Zaporizhzhia faced more intense fighting after the Russian military fired nine missiles that hit a hotel and power plant, according to a local Ukrainian governor. Reuters notes that the city itself is only 31 miles from the power plant.
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There is international protest and concern over the situation in the region. UN officials have called for a safe zone to be created around the plant to prevent further damage.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization that will force thousands of Russian citizens to join the war effort amid recent losses suffered by the Ukrainian defense forces.