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Chernobyl Staff Say They Stole Russian Fuel To Prevent Catastrophe

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Chernobyl Staff Say They Stole Russian Fuel To Prevent Catastrophe

Workers at the Chernobyl power plant have spoken about how they were forced to steal fuel from the Russian military forces that were occupying the area in order to maintain the safety of the site.

The Russians abandoned their position in the exclusion zone last week, and Ukrainian forces have since moved in.

When they arrived at the site on the first day of the invasion, the workers who are employed to ensure the security of the highly radioactive area were forced to remain and continue performing their jobs.

Billions have been spent securing the plant since the disaster in 1986, including the construction of a huge protective sarcophagus around the exploded fourth reactor.

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Chernobyl's covered fourth reactor. Credit: Alamy
Chernobyl's covered fourth reactor. Credit: Alamy

The threat of a serious nuclear event remains, which is why the staff stayed to keep working.

Oleksandr Lobada, a radiation safety supervisor, told BBC News: "They wanted to know how the facility was managed.

“They wanted information about all the procedures, documents and operations. I was scared because the questioning was constant, and sometimes forceful,"

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Another employee, Valeriy Semonov said: "We had to constantly negotiate with them, and try hard not to offend them, so that they allowed our personnel to manage the facility."

At one stage, there was no power to the plant for three days, meaning the workers had to scramble to find fuel to keep generators going and at one point resort to stealing fuel from the Russians.

Valeriy Semonov had to scramble to find fuel to keep the generator running. Credit: BBC News
Valeriy Semonov had to scramble to find fuel to keep the generator running. Credit: BBC News

Lobada continued: "If we had lost power, it could have been catastrophic. Radioactive material could have been released.

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“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."

In the end, the disaster was averted for now, although it does seem as if the Russian might have lacked a certain knowledge about the area they were in.

Drone footage has since shown trenches dug in the massively radioactive ‘Red Forest’ area of the exclusion zone.

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Employees say that there could have easily been another nuclear accident. Credit: Alamy
Employees say that there could have easily been another nuclear accident. Credit: Alamy

Energoatom, the Ukrainian state nuclear power agency said Russian soldiers will have been exposed to ‘significant doses’ of radiation.

When the Russians left the site and fell back, officials claim they looted the zone and took more than 150 captive members of the Ukrainian national guard with them.

Valeriy said: "We were able to keep the site safe. But it's upsetting that they took 169 of our military.”

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It isn’t clear where the guards have been taken, but Chernobyl officials say that they believe they are in Russia.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: BBC News/Alamy

Topics: World News, Russia, Ukraine, Chernobyl

Tom Wood
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