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Ukraine state nuclear company unable to monitor radiation levels around Chernobyl

Ukraine state nuclear company unable to monitor radiation levels around Chernobyl

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine November 22, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

LVIV: Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom warned on Monday (Mar 21) that radiation levels around the occupied Chernobyl nuclear plant risked rising because its radiation monitoring system and forest firefighting service were not working.

Soon after launching an invasion on Feb 24, Russian forces took control of the territory around the now-defunct power plant that was the site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986.

As a result, the system monitoring radiation levels in the 30km so-called exclusion zone in the forests around the plant is currently not working, Energoatom said in a statement.

"There is no data on the current state of radiation pollution of the exclusion zone's environment, which makes it impossible to adequately respond to threats," it said.

It said seasonal forest fires, which occur most often in spring and summer, posed a particular threat as the zone's forest fire service was unable to work.

"Radiation levels in the exclusion zone and beyond, including not only Ukraine, but also other countries, could significantly worsen," it said.

Despite the presence of Russian forces, Ukrainian staff have continued to work at Chernobyl's radioactive waste facilities, remaining on shift despite fears of burn-out because it was not possible to swap in a new shift of workers.

On Sunday, the UN nuclear watchdog said some new staff and rotated in, allowing half of the previous shift to leave.

Source: Reuters/vc

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