New fears for Chernobyl as Russians attack homes of plant staffMarch 25, 2022
New fears for Chernobyl: Russian troops are now attacking the homes of plant staff and stopping them from working – as G7 warns of another nuclear ‘catastrophe’
- Russia is shelling Ukrainian checkpoints in the city of Slavutych, home to many Chernobyl nuclear workers
- The continued Russian shelling is preventing worker rotations in and out of plant
- Staff at the Chernobyl plant are working at gunpoint since Russia captured site
Concerns have been raised of a nuclear disaster after Russian troops began shelling the Ukrainian town where staff working at the Chernobyl plant live.
The continued Russian shelling of Ukrainian checkpoints in the city of Slavutych, home to many Chernobyl nuclear workers, is preventing worker rotations in and out of the plant.
The bombing comes just a few days after Ukrainian technicians who were being held by Russian forces to maintain the defunct nuclear plant for nearly four weeks without being rotated were finally able to go back to their homes in Slavutych.
Staff at the Chernobyl plant are working at gunpoint since Russia captured the site of the 1986 disaster on the first day of the invasion on February 24.
Staff at the Chernobyl plant are working at gunpoint since Russia captured the site of the 1986 disaster on the first day of the invasion on February 24
A Russian armed soldier is pictured at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after troops seized the plant
Now, the Russian shelling of the city Slavutych means that the Ukrainian technicians and other staff are not able to rotate in and out of the plant, raising concerns of a nuclear disaster.
In order to ensure against any radioactive risks, operating staff must have enough rest and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure – a freedom the Chernobyl plant staff are living without under Russian control.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed ‘concern’ after Ukraine warned of the bombardment of Slavutych, the city built to house Chernobyl workers after the 1986 disaster.
Ukraine said the shelling was putting the nuclear workers ‘at risk and preventing further rotation of personnel to and from the site’.
The head of the IAEA, Reafael Grossi, said the incident came ‘just a few days after technical staff at the Chernobyl (plant) were finally able to rotate and go to their homes in Slavutych and rest after working for nearly four weeks without a change of shift’.
It comes as the leaders of the G7 warned that Russia’s attack on the site in Ukraine could lead to another nuclear ‘catastrophe’.
Now, the Russian shelling of the city Slavutych means that the Ukrainian technicians and other staff are not able to rotate in and out of the plant (pictured), raising concerns of a nuclear disaster
Russian tanks and armoured vehicles parked just in front of the destroyed reactor in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on February 24 when Russia seized the site
Earlier this week, Russian forces destroyed a laboratory at the Chernobyl plant that worked to improve management of radioactive waste.
The Ukrainian agency responsible for the Chernobyl exclusion zone said the laboratory, built at a cost of 6 million euros with support from the European Commission, opened in 2015.
The laboratory contained ‘highly active samples and samples of radionuclides that are now in the hands of the enemy, which we hope will harm itself and not the civilized world,’ the agency said in its statement.
Radionuclides are unstable atoms of chemical elements that release radiation..
The power supply at the plant was temporarily cut amid fighting earlier this month, and Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency said Monday that radiation monitors around the plant had stopped working.
Since the start of the Russian military offensive, the IAEA chief has repeatedly warned of the dangers of the conflict, which is the first to take place in a country with a vast nuclear estate comprising 15 reactors, in addition to Chernobyl.
Grossi reiterated this week that he was prepared to send equipment and staff to ensure the safety of the facilities and ‘prevent a serious nuclear accident’.
He criticised the fact that an agreement had not yet been reached with Moscow and Kiev despite intensive efforts.
The West also issued warnings on Thursday.
‘Russia’s attack has already risked the safety and security of nuclear sites in Ukraine. Russian military activities are creating extreme risks for the population and the environment, with the potential for catastrophic result,’ the G7 leaders – the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan – warned in a joint statement.
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE 1986 CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR DISASTER?
On April 26, 1986 a power station on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings.
More than 160,000 residents of the town and surrounding areas had to be evacuated and have been unable to return, leaving the former Soviet site as a radioactive ghost town.
A map of the Chernobyl exclusion zone is pictured above. The ‘ghost town’ of Pripyat sits nearby the site of the disaster
The exclusion zone, which covers a substantial area in Ukraine and some of bordering Belarus, will remain in effect for generations to come, until radiation levels fall to safe enough levels.
The region is called a ‘dead zone’ due to the extensive radiation which persists.
However, the proliferation of wildlife in the area contradicts this and many argue that the region should be given over to the animals which have become established in the area – creating a radioactive protected wildlife reserve.
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