Ukraine War

Russian forces retreat from the Chernobyl power station following a radiation leak


Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station
The New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. (Photo: Reuters)

On Thursday, Ukraine's state nuclear company said that all Russian forces occupying the Chernobyl atomic power facility had evacuated from the site's area.

The Russian authorities made no quick comment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, announced that it plans to deploy a mission to the Chernobyl radioactive waste facilities in northern Ukraine.

Though Russian troops seized control of Chernobyl shortly after the February 24 assault, the plant's Ukrainian workers continued to supervise the safe storage of spent nuclear material and the concrete-encased remnants of the reactor that blew in 1986, causing the world's worst nuclear accident.

"The Chernobyl nuclear power plant's staff reports that there are no outsiders on site at the moment," state-owned Energoatom said in an online post.

Energoatom had previously stated that most personnel had departed, leaving only a tiny contingent remaining.

The business said the Russian military has also withdrawn from the nearby town of Slavutych. Slavutych is home to Chernobyl workers.

In a separate article, Energoatom stated that the Russian side has legally agreed to relinquish responsibility for Chernobyl protection to Ukraine.

It published a scanned paper signed by individuals characterized as Chernobyl's senior officials and the Russian military officer assigned to secure the site.

Reuters was unable to verify the document's validity immediately.

Ukraine has often expressed worries about the safety of Chernobyl and sought the departure of Russian troops, whose presence hampered personnel rotation for a period.

Earlier this week, site employees told Reuters that Russian soldiers drove into the Red Forest, the most radioactively contaminated section of the zone surrounding Chernobyl, without wearing radiation protection, sending up clouds of radioactive dust.

When contacted for comment on the Chernobyl personnel testimonies, Russia's Ministry of Defense did not answer.

According to Energoatom, due to their radiation fears, "almost a riot began to brew among the soldiers," implying that this was the cause for their hasty departure.

The IAEA stated that it had been unable to verify reports of Russian forces obtaining excessive amounts of radiation.

Earlier on Thursday, Energoatom's chairman urged the IAEA to ensure that Russian nuclear officials do not interfere with the operation of Chernobyl and Europe's largest nuclear power station, Zaporizhzhia, which is also seized by Russian troops.

Publish : 2022-04-01 08:44:00

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