‘Suicidal’: Russian Soldiers Went Unprotected From Radiation At Chernobyl, Report Alleges

‘Suicidal’: Russian Soldiers Went Unprotected From Radiation At Chernobyl, Report Alleges

The Russian convoy that took Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant the day Russia invaded the country drove through a highly toxic zone near the plant without anti-radiation gear, stirring up contaminated soil and exposing themselves to highly dangerous radiation, according to Reuters.

Russian soldiers drove tanks and other armored vehicles through the “Red Forest,” a highly contaminated area about four miles from the plant, without any protective gear, said two unnamed Ukrainian workers who were at the plant the day Russia seized it, according to Reuters.

The workers, who were sent home last week after being forcibly kept at the plant for nearly a month, deemed the drive through the forest “suicidal” because the soldiers likely inhaled radioactive dust that can cause internal radiation in their bodies.

The Ukrainian nuclear regulator reported higher-than-normal radiation levels at the plant on February 25, the day after Russian forces captured it, pointing to stirred radioactive soil caused by “heavy military vehicles” as a possible reason for the spike, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Though radiation levels increased following the stirring, the IAEA said in its report the following day that readings were low and did not pose a public threat. The 1986 disaster is considered the largest nuclear catastrophe in history. Some 51 people died as a direct result of the explosion as of 2019, but it has been predicted that an additional 4,000 could eventually die due to radiation exposure, according to the World Health Organization. The site is known as the “Red Forest” because of the color the trees turned following the reactor explosion.

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