June 30, 2022

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First look inside Chernobyl nuclear plant trampled by Russian soldiers

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Inside the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Ukraine is still picking up the pieces, a month after the Russians were driven out (Picture: Getty)

new pictures from The Chernobyl former nuclear plant reveals the reckless destruction left by its Russian occupiers as they were forced to.

Cracked hallways, broken windows and warped messages on the walls were among the scenes left for Ukrainian defenders to find.

In a room with a fuse board, live electrical wiring was left uncovered, indicating that Putin’s soldiers paid little attention to the fire hazards.

While news teams were allowed into Chernobyl shortly after Ukraine retrieved it last month, it is believed that photographers had access to its laboratories and offices for the first time.

The site is no longer a working power station, but radioactive waste is stored there and requires round-the-clock care from nuclear experts to keep it safely.

Putin’s forces captured the area on 24 February, the first day of the invasion, captured 170 of his Ukrainian defenders in dungeons and forced his technical staff to operate under an apparently chaotic new regime.

While teams from Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency were brought in, Russian troops were later found to be unaware of basic security procedures and kept Ukrainian staff in a constant state of panic.

Drone footage released by Ukraine shows that many of them stayed in trenches dug behind the plant in the so-called ‘Red Forest’, one of the most radioactive places on Earth.

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine - MAY 28: A photograph showing damage and military remains from Russian troops at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after the withdrawal of Russian troops in the city of Chernobyl, Ukraine, on May 28, 2022.  Russian troops withdrew from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Kyiv region.  Ukrainian troops regained control, announced the Atomic Energy Generation Organization of Ukraine (Energotom) on 1 April.  (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Technical workers barely broke in weeks after Chernobyl was recaptured (Picture: Anadolu)
Russian soldiers left piles of rubble all over the site (Picture: Anadolu)
The site has to be carefully managed to avoid radioactive leakage (Picture: Anadolu)
A fuse box was left open in one room with live wiring sticking out (Picture: Anadolu)

Oleksiy Shelesty, an electrical supervisor, revealed how he was constantly broken by the prospect of an ‘accident’ as employees were banned from going home and were exhausted.

Speaking to AFP news agency on Monday, he said: ‘It was tough mentally and emotionally.

,[But] The emotional and psychological pressure didn’t allow me to focus on it. We just tried to do our bit and try to control all the parameters so that nothing can happen.

Another engineer previously said that Ukrainian employees had to constantly appease those who were easily offended in order to be allowed to make decisions about running the facility.

Ukrainian engineers were forced to work in harsh conditions at the site (Picture: Anadolu)
Putin’s soldiers were found to lack a basic understanding of nuclear security (Picture: Anadolu)
Chernobyl is no longer used as a power station but must be carefully monitored (Picture: Getty)
The 1986 recession is one of the worst nuclear disasters in history (Picture: Getty)

Valery Semyonov told the BBC that he was forced to steal fuel from the Russians in order to keep the generators running when power was off at the site for three days.

He added: ‘If we had lost power, it could have been disastrous. Radioactive material could be released.

‘The scale of this, you can well imagine. I didn’t fear for my life. I was afraid what would happen if I didn’t monitor the plant. I feared it would be a tragedy for humanity.

While Ukraine’s investigation suggests the Russian occupiers were exposed to a ‘shocking’ amount of radiation, experts say the wider public is spared any exposure.

Ukrainian engineers said they were left in constant fear of accidents (Picture: Anadolu)
International experts say the site is no longer a threat (Picture: Anadolu)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, later said that “increased levels” of radiation had been detected in the area, but insisted that the matter was under control.

He said: ‘The situation is not such that can be considered a major threat to the environment and people, at the time we were taking these measures.’

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