Thirty-six years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said yesterday that Russian troops risked causing an accident with their “very, very dangerous” occupation of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the agency, wearing a blue IAEA jacket and standing under an orange umbrella in front of the damaged nuclear plant in the rain, said that while radiation levels were normal, the situation was still “not stable”.
Nuclear authorities must “stay on high alert,” he said.
Russian troops entered the radiation-polluted Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on their way to the Ukrainian capital in February. They withdrew late last month as Russia withdrew its forces from areas near Kyiv and focused on fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Since then, the site has been back in Ukrainian hands and the broken communications have been restored.
Ukrainian officials said Russian occupiers held plant workers at gunpoint for a marathon shift lasting more than a month, with staff sleeping on tabletops and eating only twice a day.
“The situation was absolutely abnormal and very, very dangerous,” said Mr. Grossi.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster that “not everyone recognized the dangers of nuclear energy”.
“Now Russia’s actions at Ukrainian nuclear power plants threaten humanity with a new catastrophe.”
On April 26, 1986, an explosion and fires at Chernobyl ejected radioactive material into the atmosphere and became a symbol of the Soviet Union’s struggling final years. The international community, including Russia, has spent billions to stabilize and secure the area.
The unit in which the explosion and fire took place was encased in a state-of-the-art enclosure. However, dangers at the facility persist as spent nuclear fuel rods require around-the-clock maintenance. The fuel comes from the plant’s four reactors, all of which are now shut down.
Russian forces continue to hold a functioning nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, in southern Ukraine. Fighting damaged the Zaporizhia plant’s training facility in early March.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/on-anniversary-of-chernobyl-disaster-nuclear-chief-condemns-russia-for-very-dangerous-takeover-of-plant-41591435.html On the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the nuclear chief condemns Russia for the “very dangerous” takeover of the power plant