Nuclear experts to make dangerous mission to Chernobyl to assess Russian damage

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are heading to Chernobyl to assess the damage caused by Russian troops during their occupation of the disused nuclear power station – the site of the world’ worst radiological disaster.

The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said on Friday that he intended to lead an “assistance and support” mission to Chernobyl as soon as possible.

He added that the visit to Chernobyl would be the first in a series of nuclear safety and security missions to war-torn Ukraine.

He told a press conference that he hadn’t yet been able to confirm reports that a number of Russian soldiers had received “significant doses” of radiation, prompting the invading force to pull out of the area.

“The general radiation situation around the plant is quite normal,” he said. “There was a relatively higher level of localised radiation because of the movement of heavy vehicles at the time of the occupation of the plant and apparently this might have been the case again on the way out.

“So we heard about the possibility of some personnel being contaminated but we don’t have any confirmation about that," Grossi said at a news conference.

Ukrainian nuclear energy authority Energoatom said the Russian troops had “panicked at the first sign of illness”, which “showed up very quickly”.

"As they ran away from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Russian occupiers took members of the National Guard, whom they had held hostage since Feb 24, with them," the agency said in a statement on Telegram.

Grossi added that he knew with the war still raging, his safety couldn’t be guaranteed.

“We all know, given the very complicated circumstances on the ground the logistics for such a trip, my presence in this place would not be easy,” he said. “But at the same time, I believe they would not be impossible.

“If we are to extend assistance we have to be there.”

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