Russia invaded Ukraine Thursday. It was warfare at Chernobyl, the nuclear plant where radioactivity still leaks from the worst nuclear accident 36 years ago.
According to Mykhailo Podolyak, the Ukrainian presidential adviser, Russian forces took over the site following a fierce battle against Ukrainian national guards that were protecting the decommissioned plant. He said that the condition of the facility, including a confinement shelter, and a repository for radioactive waste, is not known.
According to a source familiar with the current assessments, Russian shelling landed on a Chernobyl radioactive waste repository. An increase in radiation levels was also reported by an official. This increase could not immediately be confirmed.
According to a senior American intelligence officer, the U.S. believes that Russian forces at Chernobyl are aiming to push to Kyiv (130 km/80 miles south of the plant) to attempt to connect with other Russian forces in Ukraine. They were not allowed to discuss the sensitive matter publicly.
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) zone of forest surrounding the shuttered plant, lies between the Belarus-Ukraine border and the Ukrainian capital.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, stated that Ukrainian officers fought for it to protect it. He called it a declaration of war against all of Europe.
Adviser Podolyak stated that Chernobyl's nuclear power plant was safe after an "absolutely stupid attack". He warned that Russia could accuse Ukraine of causing the damage or launch provocations from the Chernobyl site.
Anton Herashenko, a Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor, warned that an attack on the waste repository could release radioactive dust "over the territory of Ukraine and Belarus"
Russian officials have not made any public comments on the battle, despite having revealed very little about their operations in Ukraine.
The International Atomic Energy Agency stated that it was following the situation in Ukraine with "grave concern" and asked for maximum restraint in order to avoid any actions that could put Ukraine's nuclear facilities at danger.
Rafael Mariano Grossi is the IAEA's General Director. He stated that Ukraine informed the Vienna-based agency of the fact that "unidentified Armed Forces" have taken control over all plant facilities. There were no injuries or damage at the industrial site. Grossi stated that it was "vital that the safe and secure operation of the nuclear facilities within that zone should not been affected or disrupted in anyway."
Edwin Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, is director of nuclear safety. He said that "I cannot imagine how Russia would want to allow Chernobyl facilities to be damaged."
Lyman stated that he is most concerned about the spent fuel at the site. The site has been inactive since 2000. He said that if the power supply to cooling pumps or fuel storage tanks is cut off, it could lead to catastrophic results.
Reactor No. 4. The power plant explosion set fire to the building on April 26, 1986. It shattered the building and emitted radioactive material into the air.
The Soviet authorities made the disaster worse by not telling the public what had occurred, angering European governments as well as the Soviet people. Despite the danger of fallout, the 2 million Kyiv residents were not informed. The world only learned about the disaster after higher radiation levels in Sweden were detected.
In 2017, the huge shelter was built over the building that contained the exploded reactor. It is designed to contain radiation still leaking from the accident. The shelter houses robots that work inside to remove the reactor from destruction and collect radioactive waste.
The final dismantling of the reactors will take place between 2064 and 2064. The Ukraine chose to make the deserted area its central storage facility for spent fuel from other nuclear power plants.
Robert Habeck (German vice chancellor, economy minister) told The Associated Press Russia wouldn't need nuclear material from Chernobyl if Russia wanted to use it for any reason. Russia already has enough of such material.