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Russian Troops kicked radioactive dust and disrupted a highly toxic area around the Chernobyl nuclear Site workers said the disaster site has been known as the “Red Forest” since the capture of the defunct power plant early in its invasion of Ukraine.
Reuters spoke with workers who said the Russian soldiers in the convoy did not use anti-radiation equipment and inhaled toxic dust likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies. In the weeks after Russia took control of the site on February 24, the soldiers were still not wearing any protective gear, they said.
Two workers were on duty when Russian forces took control of Chernobyl The power plant, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster considered the worst in history and became an international embarrassment to the Soviet Union. The Red Forest, a small area surrounding the power plant, is still heavily polluted.
In the days after Moscow’s takeover of the plant, workers told news outlets they saw Russian armored vehicles and tanks moving through the forest, whose name derives from the massive amounts of radiation that turned the trees red. A Russian soldier allegedly told them he had never heard of the 1986 disaster.
“A large convoy of military vehicles drove along a road just behind our facility, and this road passes through the Red Forest,” an employee told Reuters. “The convoy released a large plume of dust. Several radiation safety sensors showed levels that were exceeded.”
Valerie Seda, acting general of the plant, told Reuters he had reported the convoy, saying, “Nobody is going there. Nobody is there.”
A day after seizing the site, Russia said the plant’s radiation levels were within limits and that employees were monitoring radioactivity. On March 9, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had stopped receiving monitoring data from the Chernobyl site.
Over the weekend, Russian forces captured the town of Slavutych where many workers at the defunct Chernobyl plant live. Seda and the mayor of Slavutich said on Monday that the Russians had left the town.
US Senator Bob Mendes called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to act to ensure oversight of Ukrainian nuclear facilities under Russian control.
at Message Moscow’s disregard for the agency’s safety protocols “exposes the international community to unexpected nuclear threats and represents President Putin’s disregard for human life and the well-being of Ukraine’s citizens and people,” Menendez told IAEA Director General Grossi on Monday.
“As we have learned from nuclear disasters in the past, the effects are permanent and irreversible and lead to loss of lives, habitats, ecosystems, and precious communities located near nuclear facilities,” he wrote.
Grossi traveled to Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with senior government officials on the IAEA’s plan Provide technical assistance Trying to avoid any potential risks to people or the environment.
“The military conflict is putting Ukrainian nuclear power plants and other facilities containing radioactive materials at unprecedented risk. We must take urgent action to ensure that they can continue to operate safely and securely and reduce the risk of a nuclear accident that could have serious consequences for health and the environment. In Ukraine and abroad.
The statement said Grossi would travel to one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants this week, but did not say which one. Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors at four active power plants, the International Atomic Energy Agency said, as of Monday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulator had informed it that eight of Ukraine’s 15 reactors were still operating, including two in Russia-controlled Zaporizhia. She added that the rest were closed for regular maintenance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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