International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi has warned that radiation levels at the Chernobyl power plant are rising.
Radiation levels at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine have hit abnormal levels on the day of the anniversary of the disaster.
The head of the UN’s atomic agency says radiation levels at the former Chernobyl nuclear power station, the scene of weeks of fighting after the Russian invasion, are “abnormal”.International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi told reporters Russia’s weeks-long occupation of the site was “very, very dangerous”, according to AFP.
The disused power station was the site of history’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 and is still used to contain nuclear waste.
Mr Grossi said: “The radiation level, I would say, is abnormal. There have been some moments when the levels have gone up because of the movement of the heavy equipment that Russian forces were bringing here and when they left.
“We are following that day by day.”
Today the United Nations is commemorating the 36th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which occurred as the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.A steam explosion fired at least five per cent of the radioactive core into the environment, causing an unknown number of deaths across Europe.
There have been thousands of deaths due to radiation-induced cancers and illnesses in the years since the disaster, although it is difficult to link many of them directly to Chernobyl.
Adi Roche, voluntary chief executive of Chernobyl Children Ireland, said the Russian occupation of the nuclear plant essentially meant that the world was “being held to ransom”.She told The Times: “Who’s to say that the madness will not return to that most fragile of places? Or, if a stray shell were to hit that sarcophagus that was built to try and protect the world from any more emissions of radioactivity, you could be looking at, potentially, a massive catastrophe.”
The power plant fell into Russian hands on February 24 following fierce fighting between the two side’s troops.The battle also led to a rise in radiation levels due to the disruption of contaminated soil. In the two months since there has been at least one major power cut at the facility, which lead to concerns of a radioactive leak.
Chernobyl operator Energoatom has also claimed that Russian troops had dug trenches in the most contaminated part of the exclusion zone, leading some to need medical treatment, it has been reported. On 31 March 2022, Russian forces formally handed control of the plant back to its employees, and most occupying forces withdrew. A team of scientists have continued to work at Chernobyl since the meltdown to ensure that it’s maintained properly.