Residents of Novoselytsya in northern Ukraine should seek refuge after shelling caused an ammonia leak at a nearby chemical facility, an official warned, as severe fighting with Russian forces continued in the area.
According to a statement from the Sumy regional military administration, the Sumykhimprom fertilizer facility was shelled at 3.55 a.m. on Monday.
"As a result of the shelling, one ammonia tank was damaged," Ukraine's state emergency services stated in a Telegram update, adding a minor ammonia leak as of 5 a.m.
Rescue crews were repairing a damaged pipeline when one of the plant's employees was reportedly hurt.
Dmytro Zhyvytskyiy, Sumy regional governor, said the leak was discovered at the Sumykhimprom factory at 4.30 a.m. local time on Monday morning in an update sent to his official Telegram account.
"As a result of Russian enemy shelling, a 50-ton ammonia tank sustained damage," Zhyvytskyiy stated, adding no threat to the Sumy population.
He warned inhabitants to seek shelter in shelters and basements within a 2.5-kilometer radius of the factory, describing ammonia as a "colorless gas with a pungent suffocating odour."
"Because ammonia is lighter than air, protection should be sought in shelters, basements, and lower floors," Zhyvytsky wrote in a Telegram message.
He noted that emergency teams were on the scene. The neighboring city of Sumy – which had a prewar population of roughly 250,000 – was not in immediate danger due to prevailing winds.
Sumykhimprom's website indicates that the factory produces a variety of chemical fertilizers.
Sumy, located around 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Kyiv, has been the scene of weeks of intense conflict.
The Russian government has stepped up propaganda and disinformation operations recently, stating that Ukraine is ready to use improvised chemical weapons and is constructing a hidden weapon of mass destruction program.
Late Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that "nationalists" had "mined" ammonia and chlorine storage facilities in Sumykhimprom "with the intent of mass poisoning Sumy region residents in the event that units of the Russian Armed Forces enter the city."
Russia has repeatedly denied assisting Syria in using chemical weapons in many assaults against its civilians throughout its 11-year civil conflict.
Additionally, Moscow has denied employing chemical weapons against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia.