After the Russian military damaged two nuclear waste sites over the weekend, Ukraine now confronts a new radiation danger and assessment. While officials say it’s too early to determine the extent of the damage, preliminary inspections appear to show that there’s no imminent danger to the public. During the invasion, military vehicles are said to have produced a rise in radiation levels after dispersing dust surrounding the iconic Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine reported a missile strike on a radioactive waste disposal plant, the Kyiv branch of the State Specialized Enterprise “Radon,” to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday, February 27. (SNRIU). The SNRIU claimed on Facebook that staff at Radon were able to take cover during the mass bombardment at the facility, where automated radiation monitoring systems were momentarily taken offline. These have subsequently re-entered service, according to the IAEA, and workers on-site anticipate to conduct on-site monitoring to better analyze the situation.
An electrical transformer was knocked out in the battle on Saturday, causing damage to a nuclear waste disposal facility near Kharkiv. While neither site has high-level radioactive waste, they both pose a threat to public health if the Russian military attacks them again. The strikes, according to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, “emphasize the very real possibility that facilities containing radioactive material would be damaged during the war, with potentially grave implications for human health and the environment.”
“I once again implore all parties to desist from any military or other action that would jeopardize the safety and security of these installations.” The IAEA’s board of governors will meet this week in Vienna to consider the developing and severe situation brought on by Russia’s invasion, according to Bloomberg. Atomic energy accounts for almost half of Ukraine’s electricity.
International monitors stated on Sunday that two Ukrainian nuclear waste sites have been damaged as a result of Russia’s now four-day invasion. According to an email from the International Atomic Energy Agency, missiles hit a radioactive waste disposal site in Kyiv, and an electrical transformer was destroyed at a similar depot in Kharkiv. To establish the extent of the damage, inspectors are still waiting for radiation measurements from local authorities.
“These two instances illustrate the very real possibility that facilities containing radioactive material would be damaged during the war, with potentially severe health and environmental repercussions,” stated IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. “I implore all parties to refrain from any military or other action that would jeopardize the safety and security of these installations.”