Russian actions at Chernobyl left 'millions' at risk, Ukraine warns
Russian actions at Chernobyl have left ‘hundreds of millions of Europeans’ at risk of radiation, Ukraine warns
- Iryna Vereshchuk says Russia is ‘ignoring’ risks around Chernobyl power station
- The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister said that this poses a threat to Europeans
- She called on the UN to take ‘immediate measures’ amid recent fires in the area
A senior Ukrainian official accused Russia of ‘irresponsible’ acts around the occupied Chernobyl power station that could send radiation across much of Europe and called on the UN Security Council to take ‘immediate measures’.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Putin’s military ‘pose a very serious threat not only to Ukraine, but also to hundreds of millions of Europeans’ in a Facebook post, accusing Russia of using ‘old and unconditional ammunition’, creating a risk of damaging the containment vessel constructed around the station’s wrecked fourth reactor.
She also said troops’ occupation of an exclusion zone means firefighters aren’t able to put out blazes in the area, posing a further risk of disaster.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk (pictured) said Putin’s military ‘pose a very serious threat not only to Ukraine, but also to hundreds of millions of Europeans’ in a Facebook post
Using old and badly maintained weapons increases detonation risk ‘even when loading and transporting’, Ms Vereshchuk added, claiming Russian troops carry the equipment through Pripyat, just under two miles away from the power plant.
She urged the UN to dispatch a mission to assess the risks, saying Russian forces were ‘militarising’ the exclusion zone around the station, which is the site of the world’s worst civil nuclear accident in 1986.
The deputy prime minister added that it is ‘completely impossible’ to put out ‘significant fires’ which can have ‘very serious consequences’ that have started in the exclusion zone as it is captured by Russian troops.
In the post she said: ‘As a result of burning in the atmosphere, radionuclides are released, which wind can move to significant distances, threatening not only to Ukraine but also to other European countries.
‘Loss of control over the exclusion zone and the inability to fully extinguish the fire could threaten radiation objects in the area.’
This comes as Lyudmila Denisova, commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for human rights said there are ‘more than 10,000 hectares of forests are burning in the exclusion zone in the CAEC area due to combat action’, worsened by windy and dry weather.
A senior Ukrainian official accused Russia of ‘irresponsible’ acts around the occupied Chernobyl power station (pictured in 2018)
In a Facebook post she added that ’31 fires have been recorded causing increased levels of radioactive air pollution’.
Ms Denisova appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (MAGATE) ‘to send experts and fire extinguishing equipment to Ukraine as soon as possible to prevent wrong consequences not only for Ukraine, but also for the whole world’.
She added: ‘Catastrophic consequences can be prevented only by immediate de-occupation of the territory by Russian troops.
‘Therefore, I call on international human rights organizations to take all possible measures to increase pressure on the Russian Federation to end military aggression against Ukraine and de-occupy high-risk areas.’
Ms Vereshchuk said damage to the containment vessel, built with European financing, would ‘inevitably lead to the release in the atmosphere of a considerable amount of radioactive dust and contamination not only in Ukraine but also in other European countries’.
Ms Vereshchuk’s claims could not be immediately verified on the ground. Russia has previously denied that its forces have put nuclear facilities inside Ukraine at risk.
This comes as Lyudmila Denisova (pictured), commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for human rights said there are ‘more than 10,000 hectares of forests are burning in the exclusion zone’
The aftermath of fires in the Chernobyl area in 2020, taken from a drone above the exclusion zone
The fire and explosion in 1986 in Chernobyl’s fourth reactor sent radiation wafting as far away as Britain and Spain.
Thousands of deaths have been linked to the aftermath of the accident and the radiation it released.
All its reactors have now been taken out of service.
Russian forces occupied the Chernobyl station in the first days of the invasion last month and for a time prevented staff maintaining facilities there from leaving or being spelled off by other workers.
The mayor of Slavutych, the town created and built to house the plant’s staff in the aftermath of the 1986 accident, said early on Monday that Russian forces that took over the town at the weekend had now left.
Yuri Fomichev said in an online video post that the troops ‘hey completed the work they had set out to do’ and were gone. He originally said three people had been killed in clashes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that it was closely monitoring the situation and expressed concern about the ability of staff to rotate in and out of the station.
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