Russian soldiers who took control of the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant passed through armored vehicles through an extremely toxic area called the “Red Forest”, raising clouds of radioactive dust, workers in the area said, according to Reuters. The Russians did not wear protective equipment and did not know where they were.
The two sources said that the soldiers in the convoy did not use any anti-radiation equipment. The second Chernobyl employee said he was “suicidal” to soldiers because the radioactive dust they inhaled could cause serious illness.
Authorities in Ukraine said on February 25 that there had been an increase in radiation levels in the area of the former Chernobyl power plant due to ground disturbance by heavy military vehicles. But so far no one was able to send in the perfect solution, which is not strange.
The two Ukrainian workers who spoke to Reuters were on duty when Russian tanks entered Chernobyl on February 24 and took control of the former plant, where staff are still responsible for the safe storage of spent fuel and site surveillance.
Both men said they saw Russian tanks and other armored vehicles moving through the Red Forest, which is the most polluted part of the area around Chernobyl, about 100 km north of Kyiv. The ordinary soldiers with whom one of the workers spoke when they worked with them in the installation had not heard of the explosion, he said.
After the capture of the plant, the Russian military said that the radiation was within normal limits and that their actions prevented possible “nuclear challenges” of the Ukrainian nationalists. Russia has previously denied that its forces endangered nuclear facilities inside Ukraine.
The Red Forest got its name when tens of square kilometers of pine trees turned red after absorbing radiation from the 1986 explosion, one of the worst nuclear disasters in the world. A large area around Chernobyl is barred from access, but the Red Forest is considered so heavily contaminated that not even nuclear power plant workers are allowed to go there.
The Russian military convoy passed through the area, the two employees said. One of them said they used an abandoned road. “A large convoy of military vehicles drove on a road just behind our unit and this road passes by the Red Forest,” said one source. “The convoy raised a large column of dust. Many radiation sensors indicated exceeded levels,” he said.
“For God’s sake, nobody goes there,” also said Valery Seida, interim general manager of Chernobyl plant. He said the workers at the Chernobyl plant had told the Russians that they should be careful about the radiation, but that they would not heed the advice. “They drove where they needed to,” Seida said.