Radiation levels at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have risen since yesterday’s takeover by Russian troops, the Ukrainian Atomic Energy Agency warned on Friday.
Russian forces took control of the abandoned plant in a “fierce” battle on Thursday, with the state of its nuclear storage facilities “unknown” at the time.
Their takeover of the station raised fears of a radiation leak that could cause nuclear fallout in Europe, last seen when the reactor exploded in 1986.
Russian officials denied that higher levels of radiation had been recorded.
Radiation levels at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have risen since yesterday’s takeover by Russian troops (pictured), the Ukrainian Atomic Energy Agency warned on Friday.
Pictured: Russian armored vehicles are parked on the roads near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant amid fears that damage to the facility could cause a radiation leak that will cover Europe in radioactive fallout.
Ukraine’s State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation said on Friday that higher levels of gamma radiation had been detected in the Chernobyl zone, but did not provide details of the increase.
This attributed the rise to “the disturbance of the topsoil due to the movement of large amounts of heavy military equipment through the exclusion zone and the release of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.”
Ukrainian authorities said Russia took the plant and its surrounding exclusion zone after heavy fighting on Thursday.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russian airborne troops were guarding the plant to prevent any possible “provocations”.
He assured that the level of radiation in the area remains normal.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said Ukraine had informed it of the takeover, adding that “there were no casualties or destruction at the industrial site.”
Radiation levels at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (pictured, file photo) have risen since yesterday’s takeover by Russian forces, the Ukrainian Atomic Energy Agency warned Friday.
Pictured: A map showing where Russian troops struck during the invasion. Chernobyl is located in the north of the country, close to the border with Belarus and Russia.
The 1986 disaster occurred when a nuclear reactor at a factory 80 miles north of Kiev exploded and a radioactive cloud spread across Europe.
The catastrophe occurred when Ukraine was part of the USSR, and the Soviet authorities at first downplayed the scale of the disaster, slowing down the reaction.
The damaged reactor was later sealed with a containment to prevent leaks. Construction of the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement was completed in 2018.
Thursday’s video shows Russian tanks and armored vehicles standing in front of the destroyed reactor.
A spokesman said on Thursday that Russian artillery shelling had hit a radioactive waste storage facility and an increase in radiation levels was initially reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was monitoring the situation in Ukraine “with grave concern” and called for maximum restraint to avoid any action that could jeopardize Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
Advisor to the President of Ukraine Mikhail Podolyak said: “After the absolutely senseless attack of the Russians in this direction, one cannot say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe.”
Meanwhile, presidential advisers have said that President Volodymyr Zelensky is still in Kiev.
In this file photo, taken February 4, 2022, servicemen take part in a joint special tactical exercise of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard of Ukraine and the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the ghost town of Pripyat, near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
“The basic scenario of a Russian special operation is clear. The only goal is to take Kiev and kill the authorities of Ukraine, personally President Zelensky,” said Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine.
On Friday, Russia pushed its invasion of Ukraine to the outskirts of the capital, launching airstrikes on cities and military bases.
Troops and tanks are advancing from three directions in an attack that could rewrite the post-Cold War global security order.
Explosions sounded in Kiev before dawn, and later gunfire erupted near the government quarter as Western leaders were planning an emergency meeting.
The President of Ukraine has pleaded for international assistance to repel an attack that could overthrow his democratically elected government, cause massive casualties and cripple the global economy.
Among signs that the Ukrainian capital is under increasing threat, the military said on Friday that a group of Russian spies and saboteurs had been spotted in the Kiev region about 3 miles north of the city center.
Earlier, the military said that Russian forces seized two Ukrainian military vehicles and some uniforms and were heading towards the city to try to infiltrate under the guise of local residents.