Ukraine: Prystaiko confirms Russian troops in Chernobyl
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Chernobyl, the former nuclear power plant located north of Ukraine, remains one of the most radioactive places in the world. An explosion of great scale took place at the plant in 1986 and is since considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.
With reports that Russian troops have seized the area amidst their invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government warned the disaster could happen again, as if continued, it could cause the threat of a “radioactive nuclear dust spillage” across Europe.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”
Why is Chernobyl such a dangerous place?
In 1986, a flawed reactor design at the power plant erupted in a major explosion. This triggered a large fireball that blew off the lid of the reactor, releasing large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere.
This radioactivity spread over Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and soon reached as far as France and Italy.
Sources report the explosion caused between two and 50 deaths, and a large number of people contracted serious radiation sickness and long-term illnesses.
The area was evacuated before the plant was entirely decommissioned in 2000.
Despite attempts to entirely contain the radioactivity in and around the plant, the air still remains hazardous to this day.
An exclusion zone was put in place, covering approximately 1,000 square miles, where radioactive contamination is highest and public access is restricted.
Although some inhabitants from around the zone returned to their homes of their own free will following the disaster, visitors are only allowed to enter the zone for a limited amount of time.
What is happening at Chernobyl now?
Russian troops reportedly entered the exclusion zone on Thursday as they took to invade Ukraine as part of Russia’s “special military operation”.
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Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulatory agency stated they detected higher than usual gamma radiation levels in the area near the decommissioned nuclear plant, due to a “disturbance of the topsoil from movement of a large amount of heavy military equipment through the exclusion zone and the release of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.”
They continued: “It is not critical for Kyiv for the time being, but we are monitoring.”
It has been proposed Chernobyl has been taken because it offers the shortest route to Kyiv.
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