IAEA Team Finds Chernobyl Radiation At ‘Normal’ Prewar Levels After Fears Of Catastrophic Leak
It was on the very first day of the Feb.24-25 initial invasion of Ukraine that Russian soldiers took over and set up camp in Chernobyl – a name that represents likely the most contaminated place on earth – and this was followed by a flood of gloom and doom Western press reports predicting worst case radiation leak scenarios, potentially even impacting the rest of Europe. One April headline, for example, spelled out: “EU says Russia’s war risks nuclear disaster on Chernobyl anniversary.”
Following the March 31st withdrawal of Russian forces from the site, there was widespread speculation and persistent rumors that Russia troops must have exposed themselves to significant doses of radiation, given up to hundreds reportedly dug trenches firmly within the contaminated exclusion zone; however, these allegations originated with Ukrainian officials and were never confirmed or revealed by the Russian side. There were also widespread reports of Russian troops hospitalized as a result – again all unconfirmed even if the scenario sounds likely.
By the end of March, American media reports cited US intelligence in confirmation that Russian forces withdrew from the site – most likely (in like with Ukrainian media and officials) due to the Russian soldiers being “irradiated” from the contaminated soil due to the historic 1986 meltdown.
To review, based on a prior Yahoo/Daily Beast report: “The Chernobyl facility fell to Russian control on Feb. 24, the first day of the invasion. Workers were on duty for more than 600 hours before being allowed a shift change. International concern grew immediately when Russian troops moved heavy military hardware through the area, kicking up radioactive dust without any protective equipment. Forest fires in the area also raised concern about environmental contamination.”
From there, fears were heightened over the potential for a massive radiation leak given the site suffered multiple power cuts, according to prior statements of the national power company Ukrenergo.
But for all the potential apocalyptic mass radiation leak scenarios, this week brought some rare good news regarding the plight of Chernobyl following the Russian troop withdrawal, based on the latest visit and tests by an IAEA team.
“Radiation detectors in the 30 km exclusion zone around Ukraine’s long-defunct Chornobyl nuclear power plant are back online for the first time since Russia seized the area on Feb. 24, and radiation levels are normal, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says,” Nikkei reports Tuesday in a fresh update on the ground situation.
Radiation detectors from the area around the #Chornobyl Power Plant, for the first time since 24 February, are transmitting data to the IAEA monitoring system. Measurements received so far indicate levels in line with those before the conflict. https://t.co/HxfPphlLO1 pic.twitter.com/zfNoGQw3q5
— IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) June 7, 2022
The UN nuclear watchdog issued the following statement:
“Most of the 39 detectors sending data from the Exclusion Zone… are now visible on the IRMIS [International Radiation Monitoring Information System] map and updated as they were before the interruption,” the International Atomic Energy Agency says, adding that “the measurements received so far indicated radiation levels in line with those measured before the conflict.”
Thus it appears that after war came to Chernobyl, crisis has been averted. Yet still there are concerns over the safety and stability of Ukraine’s operational reactors across other parts of the country.
Addressing this, the Tuesday IAEA statement said, “Regarding the country’s operational reactors, Ukraine said eight are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, three at the Rivne NPP, two at the South Ukraine NPP, and one at the Khmelnytskyy NPP.” Further, Ukrainian authorities said: “The seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve. Safety systems remain operational at the four NPPs, and they also continue to have off-site power available.”
Wed, 06/08/2022 – 04:15