A senior Ukrainian official accused Russia on Sunday of committing “irresponsible” actions around the occupied Chernobyl power station that could send radiation to large parts of Europe, and urged the United Nations to send a mission to assess the risk.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the Russian military was “fighting for” the exclusion zone around the station, the site of the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident in 1986.
The Russian army, he said, was transporting a large number of old and poorly maintained weapons, creating the risk of damaging containment vessels built around the station’s damaged fourth reactor.
And the Russian military prevented firefighters from controlling a large number of fires in the zone.
“In the context of nuclear security, the irresponsible and unprofessional actions of the Russian military pose a very serious threat not only to Ukraine but to hundreds of millions of Europeans,” Vereshchuk said in his Telegram account.
“We therefore demand that the UN Security Council take immediate steps to destroy the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl station as well as send a special mission to eliminate the risk of a recurrence of the Chernobyl accident as a result of the actions of the Russian occupation forces,” he said. said.
Vereshchuk said that damage to the containment, built with European funding, “will inevitably lead to the release into the atmosphere of large amounts of radioactive dust and pollution not only in Ukraine but also in other European countries”.
Russia, he said, “ignored this risk” by continuing to transport weapons in areas near the station.
Reuters could not immediately confirm Vereshchuk’s allegations on the grounds. Russia has previously denied that its military has put nuclear facilities inside Ukraine in danger.
Fires and explosions in 1986 at Chernobyl’s fourth reactor sent radiation soaring all the way to Britain and Spain. Thousands of deaths have been linked to the consequences of accidents and the radiation it emits.
All of its reactors are now out of order.
Russian troops occupied the Chernobyl station in the first days of last month’s invasion and for a while prevented staff maintaining the facility there from leaving or being spelled out by other workers.
The mayor of Slavutych, a city created and built after the 1986 accident, said on Saturday that Russian troops had taken over the city. Three people were killed in the fighting.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that it was monitoring the situation closely and expressed concern about the ability of staff to spin in and out of stations.
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