World

Officials say Ukraine no longer in control of Chernobyl site


An arch-shaped shelter, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. File

An arch-shaped shelter, in Chernobyl, Ukraine. File | Photo Credit: AP

A presidential adviser says Ukraine lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, where Ukrainian forces had waged a fierce battle with Russian troops.

Adviser Myhailo Podolyak told The Associated Press that Ukrainian authorities did not know the current condition of the facilities at Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

“After the absolutely senseless attack of the Russians in this direction, it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had announced several hours earlier Thursday that Russian forces were trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

A nuclear reactor at the plant 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, exploded in April 1986, sending a radioactive cloud across Europe.

The exploded reactor was covered by a protective shelter several years ago to prevent radiation leaks.

A Ukrainian official said Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository and an increase in radiation levels was reported. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) zone of forest surrounding the shuttered plant, lies between the Belarus-Ukraine border and the Ukrainian capital.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashenko warned that any attack on the waste repository could send radioactive dust over “the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and countries of the EU.”

Russian officials, who have revealed little of their operations in Ukraine and not revealed their goals, did not publicly comment on the battle.

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, said, “I can’t imagine how it would be in Russia’s interest to allow any facilities at Chernobyl to be damaged.”

In an interview, Mr. Lyman said he is most worried about the spent fuel stored at the site, which has not been active since 2000. If the power to cooling pumps is disrupted or fuel-storage tanks are damaged, the results could be catastrophic, he said.

It’s expected to take until 2064 to finish dismantling the reactors. Ukraine decided to use the deserted zone as the site for its centralized storage facility for spent fuel from the country’s other remaining nuclear power plants.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 27, 2022 2:40:51 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/officials-say-ukraine-no-longer-in-control-of-chernobyl-site/article65083353.ece