Radioactive materials have been stolen from Chernobyl lab, Ukrainian nuclear expert warns
A nuclear safety expert has warned that a control lab in the village of Chernobyl has been raided, with thieves looting radioactive ingredients that can be mixed with explosives to create a “dirty bomb” amid chaos caused by the Russian invasion.
Anatolii Nosovskyi, director of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kiev, said he has lost contact with the lab, so “the fate of these sources is unknown to us.”
He told Science that if such a bomb were made, made with the radioactive isotopes and radioactive waste pieces that would have been taken away, a large area would be at risk of being contaminated.
Kremlin troops occupy Chernobyl station (pictured in 2017) in the early days of the invasion last month
Mr Nosovskyi added that Putin’s forces made sure that firefighters were unable to extinguish the fires in the exclusion zone, threatening a “significant worsening of the radiation situation in Ukraine and across Europe”.
He said remote measurements do not suggest that concentrations of radioactive particles in the smoke pose a health hazard, but added that an automated monitoring system that went down with the March 9 power outage is still offline.
It comes as Lyudmila Denisova, Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for Human Rights, said that “more than 10,000 hectares of forest are on fire in the exclusion zone in the CAEC area as a result of combat action,” exacerbated by windy and dry weather.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk also accused Russia of “irresponsible” actions around the occupied power plant that could send radiation across much of Europe, and called on the UN Security Council to take “immediate measures.”
A nuclear safety expert has warned that a Chernobyl radiation monitoring lab has been robbed. Pictured, a Soviet-era over-the-horizon radar system in Chernobyl, in 2018
She said Putin’s army “poses 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”, raising the risk that is the containment vessel that surrounds the destroyed fourth reactor of the station.
The use of old and poorly maintained weapons increases the risk of detonation “even when loading and transporting,” Ms Vereshchuk added, claiming that Russian forces are transporting the equipment through Pripyat, just under two miles from the power plant.
She added: “Further storage of hundreds of tons of ammunition is being carried out next to the city of Chernobyl, which is also a short distance from the nuclear power plant.”
Nosovskyi calls actions by Russian troops ‘nuclear terrorism’
Kremlin troops occupied the Chernobyl station during the early days of last month’s invasion and for a time prevented personnel servicing the facilities there from leaving or being blocked by other workers.
The mayor of Slavutych, the city founded and built to house the factory’s workers in the wake of the accident in 1986, said early Monday that Russian troops that had taken the city over the weekend have now left.
Soldiers during tactical exercises for units of the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior before the invasion last month, in Prypiat
Yuri Fomichev said in an online video message that the troops had “completed the work they had planned” and had left. He originally said three people had died in clashes.
Fomichev was last week released from captivity after hundreds of residents and families protested en masse, despite stun grenades being thrown into the crowd.
He was briefly detained by Russian soldiers after they took control of the city, where employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant work.
‘I have been released. Everything is fine as far as possible under the occupation,” the mayor said, after officials in the Ukrainian capital Kiev previously announced that he had been detained.
It was agreed that the Russians would leave if those with guns handed them over to the mayor with a waiver for those with shotguns, the statement said. Guardian†
A projectile (the bright light, bottom left) landed in a parking lot at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant earlier this month, damaging cars in the area
Fire-damaged buildings in the Zaporizhzhya nuclear complex are pictured this month after being attacked by Russian forces
Kiev previously stated that Vladimir Putin’s troops had entered Slavutych and occupied the municipal hospital.
Last week, concerns were raised about a nuclear disaster after Russian troops began shelling the city.
The bombing came just days after Ukrainian technicians detained by Russian forces to service the defunct nuclear power plant for nearly four weeks without being rotated were finally able to return to their homes in Slavutych.
Earlier this month, Russian troops also shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya.
Days later, rockets were fired at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, which contains nuclear materials and a reactor.