Ukraine’s state energy company Energoatom said on Friday that Russian forces that occupied the Chernobyl nuclear power plant may have been exposed to “large doses” of radiation. The company said it could not determine the degree of radiation exposure the troops may have had, but there have been unconfirmed reports of some becoming ill.
“The invaders did not dig anything in the territory of the plant itself, but the thick dust from the equipment in transit and the radiation particles in it, may have entered the bodies of the Russian occupiers through the lungs,” Valery Seda, the director of the nuclear power plant, said in a statement.
“Moreover, no one knows what the invaders were doing in the Red Forest, and it is also possible that they received large doses of radiation when they dug trenches in this forest,” Energoatom said.
The Red Forest is the most polluted part of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, according to the Reuters news agency, and not even Chernobyl employees are allowed to go there.
“A large convoy of military vehicles drove along a road just behind our facility and this road passes through the Red Forest,” a source told Reuters. “The convoy released a large plume of dust. Several radiation safety sensors showed levels that were exceeded.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statment On Friday, it was unable to confirm reports that Russian forces had been exposed to high doses of radiation while at Chernobyl. On the other hand, Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that he will lead a mission to the station as soon as possible.
“I will lead the IAEAorg assistance and support mission for the #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant as soon as possible. This will be the first in a series of nuclear safety and security missions to Ukraine,” Grossi chirp.
Yevhen Kramarenko, head of the Ukrainian agency responsible for the exclusion zone, said radiation levels there now appear to be normal, but the facilities need to be checked.
He also said that Russian forces were seen in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl plant on Friday, after Energoatom said on Thursday thatitself, that was In the beginning of Russia Ukraine on February 24.
On Thursday, Energoatum said Russian forces had also left a nearby town where Chernobyl workers live.
The Russian forces leaving Chernobyl were reportedly heading towards the Ukrainian border with Belarus. Earlier this week, US and British officials said Russia is expected to regroup its battered forces in Belarus and elsewhere under its control in order to launch a new offensive in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.