Chernobyl was captured by Russian troops on the first day of the Russian war against Ukraine, what are the consequences of temporary occupation.
After the start Russia’s wars against Ukraineduring the occupation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant by the Russian military, fortifications were built in places of maximum radiation background, a unique radiological laboratory was taken out, the defenders of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were taken prisoner, and the personnel had to work in conditions of increased radiation exposure.
Trenches in the Red Forest and exposure of those who dug them
Russian invaders seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the first day of the large-scale attack of the Russian Federation on Ukraine on February 24. For more than three weeks, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was under Russian occupation. In the premises where the Russian invaders were quartered at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a radiation background was recorded that exceeded the maximum permissible norms by dozens of times. The same background was recorded in the sand, with which the soldiers filled the bags for the construction of fortifications, Denis Monastyrsky, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, told reporters following his trip to the station.
“We stopped at the Red Forest (part of the wooded area in the Chernobyl zone, where the highest levels of radiation were recorded. – Ed.), saw dug trenches and the remains of the Russian presence there. The radiation background there exceeds the norm by hundreds of times. It is a fact that all the Russians who passed through the Chernobyl zone received an extremely high level of radiation, as well as the equipment that was broken, and they took it with them,” the minister said.
Explosives and mine traps in the Chernobyl zone
According to Monastyrsky, entire areas with multiple mine traps and mined approaches were found on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. “Access to these territories is not yet possible, but the personnel have alarming information about some work carried out by the occupiers around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. What exactly happened there is still unknown. We have repeatedly heard that there may be sabotage and terrorist attacks prepared in advance. But what is known for sure , is that there are a lot of explosive objects,” Monastyrsky said.
The military unit of the station’s security, which consisted mainly of fighters from the National Guard of Ukraine, resisted the occupiers, but was forced to lay down their arms for lack of heavy weapons and the danger of shelling critical plant facilities by the invaders, Valeriy Seyda, acting director general of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, told DW. “Then there was a very high risk of damage or destruction of these facilities, which would have led to catastrophic consequences for the health of citizens and the environment not only in Ukraine, but also in a significant part of the world. they do not shy away from thoughtless shelling of nuclear facilities,” Seyda said.
How Chernobyl employees were held hostage
According to the acting head of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Russian military did not put forward any specific requirements for the personnel or the management of the station, and the shift supervisor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was able to ensure the working hours of the personnel and prevent armed invaders from interfering in the work of the station. “The greatest damage that has been done to the staff is related to psychological health. People worked a shift 50 times longer than the norm – 600 hours instead of twelve,” Seyda said.
He also complained about the neglect of radiation safety rules by the Russians, which had a negative impact on the radiation situation in office and industrial premises. “In the barracks equipped by the invaders, which are located right in the office premises of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, not only the radiation, but also their sanitary condition worsened, property was looted and destroyed – computers, hard drives, portable equipment. The assessment of the damage is still ongoing, but after the enemy left, the state staff is elated, although it is safe to talk about the psychological trauma caused to those who survived the occupation,” Seyda said.
This is confirmed by the story about the experience of one of the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, with whom DW managed to communicate. Even after the de-occupation of the station, he is still afraid to give his name and position. The man said that Russian troops entered the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at 6 am on February 24, when his night shift was coming to an end. Since then, he had to stay at work for 24 days.
“We had to work day and night. I wouldn’t say that we were pressed, but in general the atmosphere was very depressing. We slept in a room “clean” from radiation, but we had to lie on whatever we had to – on tables, quilted jackets for themselves and everything they could find. They fed us in the dining room twice a day, but there was little food, and it was somehow not of very high quality, “said a ChAES worker. He is now doing well, but his prolonged stay at the station has resulted in excessive exposure and flaking of the skin, “like after a severe sunburn.”
Growing radiation hazard
All of the nuclear experts interviewed categorically denied Russia’s suspicions about the ongoing research at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to enrich uranium for the production of nuclear weapons. At the same time, no one denied the abduction by the invaders of a unique radiological laboratory, created with Western assistance to monitor the radiation situation at the station. The leadership of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is extremely outraged that the World Association of Nuclear Power Plant Operators with a regional center in Moscow, headed by the former director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Nikolai Sorokin, has still not reacted in any way to the seizure of the Chernobyl and Zaporozhye nuclear power plants by the Russian Federation.
In turn, the ex-Minister of Ecology of Ukraine, the former head of the Ukrainian delegation for negotiations with donor countries to overcome the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, Yuriy Kostenko, is outraged that the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) also kept silent when the Kremlin named among the reasons for the Russian attack on Ukraine “nuclear military program of Ukraine”. “The IAEA monitoring system in Ukraine makes it possible to fully track every gram of nuclear fuel. The organization had, first of all, to refute this thesis of Putin. When Russian troops reached the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and later to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, there were no statements from the IAEA demanding not to approach with military operations closer than 30 kilometers to these nuclear facilities,” Kostenko said.
The ex-minister recalled that there is a clear legal definition of “nuclear terrorism” in international law. “Not a single IAEA official called these actions of Russia nuclear terrorism and did not call on the world community to counteract nuclear terrorism in Ukraine. “This is fraught with the fact that in the future the terrorist will seize not planes, but nuclear power plants, and put forward his demands to the entire democratic world “, – said Kostenko.