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Russian forces They have evacuated the surrounding area ChernobylBut Ukrainian officials are now sounding the alarm that troops could be exposed to large amounts of radiation after they deliberately disrupted radioactive dust, reports said Saturday.
Workers at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, have warned for weeks that Russian forces have been raising clouds of radioactive dust after driving armored vehicles through an area known as the “Red Forest.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s atomic energy agency, said it was unable to independently verify reports that Russian forces had received “high doses of radiation”.
“It is critical that the IAEA travel to Chernobyl so that we can take urgent action to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security there,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. “I am in close consultations with our Ukrainian counterparts to organize such a visit as soon as possible.”
As of Friday, the IAEA had been unable to access the site, but said that “the agency’s priority is to send safety, security and safeguards personnel to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as quickly as possible.”
Russian forces surrounded the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the first day of the invasion of Moscow on February 24.
Although Ukrainian officials were allowed to continue overseeing the site, they had to deal with uninformed Russian soldiers.
“We had to negotiate with them constantly and try very hard not to offend them until they let our people run the facility,” engineer Valery Simonov told the BBC on Saturday.
The engineers explained that they were forced to take strict measures to ensure that the plant continued to operate properly, even after a three-day power outage.
Simonov said they were forced to scramble to find fuel to keep generators running — and reportedly stole some from Russian forces.
Russian forces withdrew from northern Ukraine back to Belarus and Russia. But US and NATO officials have repeatedly warned that this is just a rearmament and resupply tactic before they focus their efforts on eastern Ukraine.
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