Putin humiliated as ‘busloads’ of Russians flee Chernobyl with ‘radiation poisoning’

Ukraine 'has basically won' against Russia says Suter

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Claims of this wretched retreat came from the Ukrainian state nuclear power company, Energoatom — who alleged that the Russian troops became sick after digging trenches inside the radiation-contaminated “Red Forest” that lies within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The energy firm said that the Russian soldiers “panicked at the first sign of illness”, which “showed up very quickly” — suggesting that this prompted their departure. These claims have also been made by Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk — although independent verification is still pending.

According to Chernobyl Tour CEO Yaroslav Yemelianenko, the troops with radiation poisoning are being transported to the Belarusian Radiation Medicine Center in Homel.

The suggestion the soldiers became after digging trench ill followed similar reports earlier this week that a handful of troops had contracted radiation poisoning after kicking up radioactive dust while driving tanks around the exclusion zone that encircles the plant.

Some experts, however, have suggested that the driving and trench digging activities would not have been sufficient to cause radiation sickness.

The story, they suggest, may have been invented or exaggerated either by Ukraine to embarrass Russia, or by Russia to justify their retreat from the Chernobyl area.

Nuclear industry expert Jeremy Gordon said on Twitter: “The most intense radiation comes from nuclear material with a short half-life – decaying fast and giving off all its radiation in a hurry. We’re talking seconds, minutes and hours. More than 35 years after the accident, that stuff is gone.

“None of this is to say that messing around in the exclusion zone is safe. “The soil there is contaminated and digging trenches to sit in it would be dumb. Why do that anyway, given nobody is around for miles?

“Exposures like these, especially internally from ingestion and inhalation, would raise their statistical chance of developing cancer, but it would not deliver the huge whole-body-at-once dose you need for Acute Radiation Syndrome. It also wouldn’t make them feel physically sick.

“In conclusion — have Russian troops done dumb stuff near Chernobyl? Well, messing with anything would be dumb.

“Have they done themselves harm? Potentially there will be impacts in the future.

“Seven busloads of Acute Radiation Syndrome patients? Personally, I don’t expect so.”

It is possible, Mr Gordon noted, that Russians are being taken to Belarusian Radiation Medicine Center — but as a purely precautionary measure after spending time in the exclusion zone, rather than for actual treatment.

Radiation poisoning — known to medical experts as “acute radiation syndrome” — develops when one is exposed to high amounts of ionising radiation, typically in excess of 70 rad, over the space of a few minutes.

Symptoms, which can come and go, may start to manifest as quickly as within an hour of radiation exposure and can persist for up to several months, assuming the patient survives.

They often include diarrhoea, dizziness, fatigue, fever, hair loss, headache, internal bleeding, loss of appetite, nausea, skin burns, swelling and vomiting.

Acute radiation syndrome is usually addressed with supportive care, which might take the form of antibiotics, blood transfusions or even stem cell transplants. Survivors often go on to develop radiation-induced cancer which also requires treatment.

Doses over 800 rad are typically fatal, however, and mandate palliative care.

While radiation poisoning is serious and often fatal, it is fortunately rare — and since the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most cases have resulted from industrial accidents like the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.

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Yesterday, Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) that the Russian forces put down in writing that they were transferring control of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant back to Ukrainian personnel.

They also said that the Russian army had moved out two convoys of troops from the plant — and a third from Slavutych, the neighbouring city where many of the Chernobyl staff work — and that these troops were heading in the direction of the Belarusian border.

According to Ukrainian officials, some Russian forces were still present at the Chernobyl site as of yesterday, but they appear to have left this morning.

In a statement, the IAEA said that it had “not been able to confirm reports of Russian forces receiving high doses of radiation while being in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.”

“The IAEA is seeking further information in order to provide an independent assessment of the situation.”

While Russia may have relinquished its grasp on Chernobyl, much still needs to be done to return the nuclear facility to the operating level it was at prior to the invasion.

According to the IAEA, Ukrainian officials have not reported any further staff rotations since the ones secured on March 20–21.

These are essential to ensuring that the nuclear technicians are adequately rested to be able to undertake their vital duties to the best of their abilities.

While many staff were rotated two weeks ago, it is understood that some chose to remain on duty, in order to spare their replacements from being placed in harm’s way in their place.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has said that the agency is in talks with the Ukrainian authorities about sending the first assistance and support mission to Chernobyl within the coming days.

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