A Ukrainian official who works as an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shared that Russian troops have taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, but not without a spirited fight from Ukrainian military.
Myhailo Podolyak told the Associated Press that after a “senseless attack of the Russians . . .it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe.”
Chernobyl is the site of the historic nuclear meltdown in April 1986. The decommissioned nuclear plant still has three operational reactors. The disaster that took place at Chernobyl was the world’s worst nuclear accident. At the time of the incident, fires at the site and a nuclear explosion, propelled radiation into the Ukrainian air, and large amounts were also carried over to Belarus, Russia, and other parts of the Ukraine. The site of the abandoned nuclear plant is about eighty miles north of Kyiv.
At least thirty-two people died due to the meltdown and the resulting fallout. A 2016 report published by the World Health Organization has linked at least 11,000 cases of thyroid cancer to the blast and its aftermath.
The reactor that exploded has been covered in an effort to prevent further leaking of nuclear radiation. The area is considered off-limits to the general public.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Ukraine had informed their officials that “unidentified armed forces” had taken control of the facilities. The Ukrainian officials shared that there were no casualties, however. There was also no destruction at the site.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi released a statement on Thursday in which he shared that the IAEA is following the situation with “grave concern.” The agency is calling for “maximum restraint” so that any actions that might put the former nuclear facility at risk would be avoided.
The IAEA Director General also shared that it has been informed that Ukraine’s operational nuclear power plants are secure and safe.
Earlier today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on his country by Russia is “a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
He had warned foreign agencies earlier on Thursday that Russian ground troops were working to take the Chernobyl plant, which is now abandoned and sealed up.
Zelenskyy tweeted earlier, “Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”
Ukrainian officials fear that the Russian capture of the site could lead to an ecological disaster, The Washington Post reports. They warn that the area is full of contaminated soil, and the potential for further fallout is real.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry warned that the Russian attack could cause major issues. The Ministry shared that the attack “may cause another ecological disaster,” and, if a true war breaks out in the Ukraine, “Chernobyl can happen again in 2022.”