Russian Troops Dug Trenches At Chernobyl, Rising Radiation Levels – In a blatant disregard for their own lives as well as others, Russian troops dug trenches in the “Red Forrest” outside of Chernobyl, disturbing and spreading radioactive dust, while also taking radioactive material with them after their troops withdrew.
Russian troops took the Chernobyl nuclear site on the first day of their invasion of Ukraine and promptly had their troops digging trenches in the Red Forrest. Chernobyl was the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history when an explosion in 1986 spread nuclear contamination across Europe, and the Red Forrest is considered one of the most radioactive places on earth. And Russian soldiers were digging in the earth, spreading radioactive dust on their boots and spreading it to the surrounding area.
According to the state-run nuclear energy company Energoatom, the soldiers stole or damaged 133 sources of radiation that are equivalent to 700 kilograms of radioactive waste.
CNN reporters were granted access to the site after the Russian troops had withdrawn to the north and followed Ukrainian officials with radiation meters who were taking radiation levels, which were raised throughout the facility. This was due to Russian soldiers walking through and spreading radioactive dust from their boots.
At the edge of where the Russian troops had dug trenches and fighting positions inside the Red Forrest, a Russian ration box, left behind by Russian troops, measured at 50 times above normal levels.
“It’s crazy, really,” Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said to the media. “I really have no idea why they did it,” he added referring to the Russian soldiers digging into the radioactive soil and then living in the area for a month.
UN Nuclear Watchdog Agency Heading to Chernobyl
Rafael Grossi the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), posted on Twitter that he’d lead a team to the site to offer “assistance and support” to the Ukrainian scientists who have been trying to maintain the levels of radiation there.
“It is of paramount importance that the IAEA travels to Chernobyl so that we can take urgent action to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security there,” he said.
“I’m in close consultations with our Ukrainian counterparts to organize such a visit as soon as it is possible.”
There were unconfirmed reports of Russian soldiers already showing signs of radiation sickness and that the Russians moved the armored vehicles and troops to a facility in Belarus for treatment. The Russians haven’t commented.
This followed dangerous behavior by the Russian troops who, despite warnings from the Ukrainian nuclear officials at the plant, began using bulldozers to dig in the world’s worst irradiated earth to place troops, tanks, and artillery in the area.
The Russian troops, according to a report by the New York Times, dug an elaborate system of trenches, underground walkways, and fighting positions in the contaminated soil.
Decades of Data Was Taken From the Facility:
While ransacking the Chernobyl site and stealing anything of worth from the Ukrainian workers at the facility, Russian troops also made off with or destroyed decades of data from the facility.
Oleksandr Syrota, chairman of the public council under the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, posted on Facebook an angry message about Russian troops destroying some of the data.
“This is all that remains of our Chernobyl documents and archives. What we have been collecting for decades, some whore just threw in the trash,” he wrote.
Ukrainian officials charged with maintaining the no longer functioning nuclear power plant, but safeguarding the spent but very radioactive fuel rods are kept secure. But power was cut to the station for three days which could have been catastrophic.
Ukrainian officials went so far as to steal fuel from the Russians to keep their generators running.
“If we had lost power, it could have been catastrophic,” said Oleksandr Lobada, a radiation safety supervisor at the facility. “Radioactive material could have been released. The scale of it, you can well imagine. I wasn’t scared for my life. I was scared about what would happen if I wasn’t there monitoring the plant. I was scared it would be a tragedy for humanity.”
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.