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'Suicidal' Russian Soldiers Are Kicking Up Radioactive Chernobyl Dust, Workers Say

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'Suicidal' Russian Soldiers Are Kicking Up Radioactive Chernobyl Dust, Workers Say

Russian soldiers who seized the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant have been warned that they kicked up radioactive nuclear dust that could irradiate their bodies.

Ukrainian workers who were at the site when Russia launched its invasion more than a month ago have claimed that troops drove armoured vehicles through one of the most dangerous parts of the area surrounding Chernobyl without proper protection, describing the move as 'suicidal' because of the amount of radioactive particles they were likely to have inhaled.

The workers' accounts reveal further details behind a warning issued by Ukraine's nuclear inspectorate earlier this month which stated that increased radiation levels had been detected at Chernobyl after Russian tanks disturbed the soil.

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A soldier at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. Credit: Alamy
A soldier at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. Credit: Alamy

According to two workers who were on duty at the time, the troops drove through an area known as the 'Red Forest,' which remains so contaminated that even staff at Chernobyl are unable to enter.

"A big convoy of military vehicles drove along a road right behind our facility and this road goes past the Red Forest," one of the workers, who spoke to Reuters anonymously, said. The publication said it could not independently verify the accounts.

"The convoy kicked up a big column of dust. Many radiation safety sensors showed exceeded levels."

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The Red Forest gained its name for the trees which turned red as a result of radiation exposure following the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986.

"Nobody goes there... for God's sake. There is no one there," Valery Seida, acting general director of the Chernobyl plant, said of the area. Seida said he could not say for certain whether Russian troops entered the forest, but said 'they drove wherever they needed to.'

On 25 February, the day after Russia seized Chernobyl, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that radiation levels had reached 9.46 microsieverts per hour, which they said posed no threat to the general population.

The IAEA has not received monitoring information from Chernobyl since 9 March.

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Warning signs outside the red forest. Credit: Alamy
Warning signs outside the red forest. Credit: Alamy

One of the workers claimed that some of the Russian soldiers he encountered were not aware of the significance of the location.

"They did not have a clue. They had no idea what kind of a facility they were at," he said. "We talked to regular soldiers. All we heard from them was 'It's critically important infrastructure'. That was it."

Russian specialists trained in dealing with radiation reportedly did not arrive until a week later, and were also not wearing protective gear, the workers said.

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If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, Chernobyl, World News

Hannah Smith
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