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The Chernobyl nuclear facility could be close to a new nuclear accident as Ukrainian personnel at the plant are held hostages by Russian troops and are running out of food and fuel, the mayor of a nearby town which houses workers at the plant has told Daily Mail.
The mayor of Slavutych, Yuri Fomichev, warned that there could be a “complete catastrophe” at the Chernobyl plant, the site of the 1986 disaster, as workers are stressed out by being held at gunpoint and are running out of supplies and fuel, including fuel for emergency generators supplying back-up control for the safety systems.
Nearly 100 workers at Chernobyl have been held hostage by the Russians for weeks, after Russian soldiers took them hostage on the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Chernobyl is located in the northernmost part of Ukraine, close to the border with Belarus.
The decommissioned Chernobyl power plant has 20 tons of nuclear waste that must be constantly cooled to prevent radiation from leaking.
“If the cooling systems stop, even for a while, we will get yet another Fukushima,” Fomichev told Daily Mail via text messages.
The mayor of Slavutych is pleading for a “humanitarian corridor” to rotate and supply the people keeping the facility safe.
The some 200 Ukrainian workers “keeping the abandoned nuclear plant safe are ill-fed, stressed and desperate for relief,” The Wall Street Journal reported in a featured article on Tuesday.
Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday that the Chernobyl plant had been re-connected to the national electricity grid and no longer relied on emergency diesel generators for power, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. The facility lost power last Wednesday, March 9, and had to rely on diesel fuel for backup electricity.
“The site’s 211 technical personnel and guards have not been able to rotate since the day before the Russian forces entered the area, in effect living there for the past three weeks. Director General Grossi said they were working “under enormous stress without the necessary rest”. The regulator said there was no information whether and when a shift change would be possible,” the IAEA said on Tuesday.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com