Unprotected Russian soldiers have disturbed the radioactive dust in Chernobyl’s “red forest”.
In an act that has been described as “suicidal” by an employee at the nuclear power plant, troops drove armoured vehicles without any radiation protection through Chernobyl’s highly toxic “red forest”.
The act has been deemed dangerous and “suicidal” due to the radioactive dust the soldiers inhaled as they drove through, which is likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies.
Radiation levels at Chernobyl had increased due to heavy military vehicles disturbing the soil, Ukraine’s state nuclear inspectorate said on February 25.
The two Ukrainian workers on duty at the plant on the day said they had seen Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles moving through the “red forest”, which is the most radioactively contaminated part of the zone around the power station.
The “red forest”, so called because dozens of square miles of pine trees turned red after absorbing radiation from the explosion, is considered so highly contaminated that even the nuclear plant workers are not allowed to go there.
Valery Seida, acting general director of the Chernobyl plant, said: “Nobody goes there… for God’s sake. There is no one there.”
But the Russian military convoy went through the zone, reportedly using an abandoned road, the two employees said.
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One of the workers, who has remained anonymous for his own safety, said: “A big convoy of military vehicles drove along a road right behind our facility, and this road goes past the red forest.
“The convoy kicked up a big column of dust. Many radiation safety sensors showed exceeded levels.”
The Chernobyl exclusion zone is still considered by Ukrainian authorities to be dangerous.
Entering the disaster site without permission is a crime under Ukrainian law.