Chernobyl radiation ‘exceeds control levels’ in multiple areas after being seized by Russia, says Ukraine

Nuclear expert says tanks may have ‘disturbed’ radioactive dust

Matt Mathers
Friday 25 February 2022 16:49
Comments

Related video: Kyiv under attack

Leer en Español

Radiation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has exceeded control levels after Russia troops took control of the area, Ukraine has said.

Data from an automated system monitoring the exclusion zone show gamma radition levels more than 20 times those seen days earlier, analysts said.

Ukraine’s parliament said it was "currently impossible to establish the reasons for the change in the radiation background in the exclusion zone because of the occupation and military fight in this territory."

Russia's defence ministry claimed radiation levels coming out of the power plant are normal. Moscow said it would send paratroopers to the area to help secure the area.

But Claire Corkhill, professor of nuclear material degradation at the University of Sheffield and an advisor to the UK government, said it looked as though there had been "spike" in gamma radiation at the site.

Thousands turnout to march in anti-war protests across St Petersburg

"Around the Chernobyl power plant, the gamma radiation looks to have increased by around 20 times compared with a few days ago,” she said, though she added: "This appears to be based on a single data point, so caution should be taken not to over-interpret at this stage.”

Ms Corkhill added areas where radiation levels had increased most were near main routes in and out of the site, suggesting the increased movement of people or vehicles may have "disturbed" radioactive dust.

"This is backed up by the fact that in some areas of the zone, there is no increase at all," she added." "It shows that any release of radioactivity is probably highly localised."

The highly radioactive fuel material within the reactor at Chernobyl is buried deep within the base and underneath the new safe containment structure.

Map shows radiation levels about control levels

The professor concluded that it seemed "very unlikely" that radiation would be released from this area unless it was directly targeted.

Asked if the radiation poses a high risk, Ms Corkhill told The Independent: “I would say not very [much], especially to those outside of the exclusion zone.”

Russian forces’ movements since the invasion began

Experts at Ukraine’s nuclear agency did not provide exact radiation levels but also said the change was likely due to the movement of heavy military equipment in the area lifting radioactive dust into the air.

"Radiation starts to increase. It is not critical for Kyiv for the time being, but we are monitoring," the interior ministry said.

The US has said there are “credible” reports that staff at the nuclear site were being held hostage by Russian forces.

The still-radioactive site of the 1986 nuclear disaster lies some 100 kilometres from Kyiv.

Ukraine's neighbour Poland said it had not recorded any increase in radiation levels on its territory.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in