On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry took control of the Ukrainian Chernobyl nuclear power plant and agreed with its defense battalion soldiers to provide security to this facility' reactors and sarcophagus.
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The 32 km radius around the Chernobyl plant remains largely devoided of life since 1986 when a faulty reactor caused a major explosion that killed 31 people.
The Sheffield University radioactive waste materials teacher Claire Corkhill acknowledged that Russian experts are among the world's most experienced nuclear operators. However, she worries that the armed conflict will pause the US$1.5 billion clean-up operations at Chernobyl.
“If people are not properly working on the facility and progressing the decommissioning, it could be a big problem,” she stressed, recalling that experts have not still managed to clean everything up 30 years after the accident.
After the military confrontation, the Ukrainian authorities recorded radiation levels increasing in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. So far, however, the reasons for such changes cannot be studied.
Located about 130 km north of Kyiv, Chernobyl does not have battle-determining significance. However, it provides a path into the capital for the Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski stressed that the seizure of this territory was a declaration of war against all of Europe and that Ukrainian troops will fight so that a nuclear disaster would not be repeated.