Chernobyl nuclear plant staff ‘stole fuel from Russians to prevent catastrophic incident’

Officials at the station reportedly confirmed drone footage released by Ukrainian military showed Russian troops dug trenches and stayed there, the BBC reported

Big Zero Report 2022

Staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site had to resort to stealing some fuel from the Russian troops to prevent a “catastrophic” incident, the BBC has reported.

Russian forces had been in control of the Chernobyl facility in Ukraine since the end of February, following which a power line for external electricity supplies at the plant had been disconnected.

Staff at the Russian-controlled facility had been working for nearly four weeks – or around 600 hours – without being able to change shifts until, with the long-delayed rotation of staff only completed on 21st March 2022.

The Russian troops finally left the nuclear plant site and transferred control to Ukrainian personnel at the end of March 2022.

Oleksandr Lobada, Radiation Safety Supervisor at the facility told the BBC: “We store nuclear waste, if we’d lost power, it would have been catastrophic. Radioactive material could have been released. I wasn’t really worried for my life, I was scared of what would happen if I wasn’t there monitoring the plant. I was scared it would be a tragedy for humanity.”

Officials at the station reportedly confirmed drone footage released by Ukrainian military showed Russian troops dug trenches and stayed there.

Reports also claim the state-run nuclear power agency, Energoatom, said Russian soldiers were reportedly exposed to “significant doses” of radiation as the area behind the plant is believed to be one of the most radioactive places on Earth.

Yesterday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Ukraine carried out staff rotation at the Chernobyl plant in three weeks.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said he is in close consultations with Ukraine on setting a date and organising a programme of work for the Agency’s visit to the nuclear plant, which is expected to take place soon.

Mr Grossi recently travelled to Ukraine to meet with officials and review and deliver the IAEA’s technical assistance immediately for the safety and security of the country’s nuclear plants.

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