IAEA Calls for Russia, Ukraine to Ensure Safety of Nuclear Plants

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“We see a rise of the level of radiation in Chernobyl”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has called on the parties in
the Russia-Ukraine conflict to ensure the safety and security of
Ukraine’s nuclear plants. The director of the IAEA expressed concern
about the plants Wednesday in remarks to a U.N. environmental conference
in Kenya.

In the past week, the Russian army reportedly has taken control of
several nuclear sites in Ukraine, including Chernobyl, site of the 1986
nuclear meltdown that released high amounts of radiation into the

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s deputy environment minister, Roman
Shakhmatenko, addressed the U.N. Environmental Assembly from Kyiv,
speaking from what appeared to be a basement filled with people trying
to escape Russian bombing. The audio was recorded from the livestream of
the session.

He warned that the nuclear safety of Europe is at stake.

“We see a rise of the level of radiation in Chernobyl because their
troops are moving there and there is a threat … of Russian terrorist
acts,” Shakhmatenko said.

During a briefing Wednesday morning, an IAEA official confirmed there
were higher radiation levels at Chernobyl just after the Russians took
over the site, but said the readings have since gone down to normal,
harmless levels.

The IAEA, however, says it remains worried about Ukraine’s nuclear
plants. In a statement, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said “any
military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of
Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided.”

Grossi gave the statement from the IAEA Vienna office, adding,
“Because any incidents could have severe consequences, aggravating human
suffering and causing environmental harm.”

This is the second time in a week that the Ukraine conflict has
intruded on the environmental conference, which was called to discuss
ways of containing plastic pollution around the world. On Monday, the
European Union denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia said the
government in Kyiv was to blame for the conflict.


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