Russian invading forces have robbed and destroyed a lab in the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Planet complex used to monitor radiation levels at the decommissioned plant and the area around it, the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management has announced.
Chornobyl was one of the primary targets of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24, and since then the nuclear power station has been cut off from the monitoring system that sends data to the International Atomic Energy Agency, has lost power several times, was at risk of wildfires, and only in the last few days have some of the workers who were being held hostage inside been allowed a long-delayed staff rotation.
The news of the destruction of the relatively new central analytical laboratory in Chornobyl adds to the list of wonton destruction to the area. The state-of-the-art laboratory's role was to provide detailed scientific analysis of every stage of radioactive waste processing. This was achieved with 100 advanced pieces of equipment that the agency describes as having no counterparts in Europe.
Given that the Chornobyl disaster is the worst civil nuclear accident in history, the work done by this lab in the last seven years has been groundbreaking when it comes to radioactive waste management. So the damage being done right now not only impacts the work conducted in the exclusion zone, but anywhere this might be applicable.
"The laboratory used the highly-active samples of radionuclides, which are currently captured by the enemies, so we hope sincerely that their actions will harm only themselves, rather than the entire civilized world,” the agency concluded.
The Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant has not been working for two decades so there is no risk of another disaster. The situation, however, is still perilous for the workers that are keeping the site safe and for the possibility that the vast progress carried out in making it safe may be halted or made worse by the Russian invading forces.
Originally 211 technical personnel and guards remained in the structure as the Russian forces took over the area. The long-delayed staff rotation took place last weekend. Thirteen members of the technical staff refused to rotate, as did the guards.
The fire station of the local fire brigades that are taking care of the wildfires that are common in the regular “fire season” the area experiences this time of year, however, do not currently have access to the electricity grid and are relying on generators.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it stands ready to send experts and equipment to Ukraine if a safety corridor can be agreed
Chernobyl, as the power plant is known in the West, is the romanization of the Russian spelling. The romanization of the Ukrainian spelling is Chornobyl. To align with sources we kept this spelling throughout the article.