Russian troops engaged in “nuclear terrorism” during their occupation of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in February-March 2022, Ukraine’s SBU security service said in a YouTube video on July 19.
Although the nuclear reactors at the facility have been shut down, there are still three nuclear waste silos at Chornobyl NPP. When invading Russian troops turned the premises in a makeshift military base, they were in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits any attacks on nuclear infrastructure objects.
After occupying the NPP on Feb. 24, the Russians violated nuclear safety regulations in the following ways:
- Buildings were damaged, surrounding area was laden with landmines, and several fires contributed to dangerous air pollution with radioactive mate-rial;
- Regular monitoring of background radiation levels was suspended, as well as necessary supply of spare parts and fuel;
- NPP employees were held essentially captive, increasing the risks of human error due to stress.
The SBU also said it has evidence of Russia’s illegal activity at the site:
- Large numbers of Russian armor and over 1,000 troops were stationed around the NPP;
- The invaders have set up temporary bunkers at one nuclear waste silo, which stores spent Plutonium-239 rods;
- At least 100 Russian landmines were found in the area; three of which exploded;
- Russian activity left the facility almost completely without power on March9, shutting down nuclear waste silo cooling systems;
- NASA and ESA satellites registered fires across 14 acres of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, while firefighters were prevented from putting the fires out;
- Russian troops looted a warehouse of specialized equipment and fuel at the NPP. The EU-funded Ecocenter laboratory was also trashed. Twenty-one sources of ionized radiation were stolen, which could potentially contaminate as much as 2,000 square kilometers of land;
- The invaders erected earthworks near the Red Forest – a highly-contaminated area.
“The exclusion zone is still not completely swept for mines,” the SBU added.
“This jeopardizes the radiation safety of the site, which Ukraine and its international partners spent decades to establish. The risk of uncontrolled detonations and resulting fires still remains.”
After seizing Chornobyl NPP on Feb. 24, Russian troops kept Chornobyl employees hostage. A partial personnel rotation was made possible only on March 20.
Russian forces withdrew from the facility and nearby city of Slavutych on March 31, retreating towards Belarus. On their way out, Moscow’s troops looted the NPP and the hotel in Chornobyl, stealing appliances and even cutlery.