There are fears of a "new Chernobyl" following rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine after the latter's president has promised to attack Russian troops who refuse to leave a nuclear plant.
The Russians have ignored calls to demilitarise the Zaporizhia nuclear plant they have seized as atomic energy chiefs say the actions of Vladimir Putin's troops have caused the risk of a repeat of the nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986.
Russia was accused of "nuclear blackmail" by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and has warned Putin that his soldiers will have no option but to attack the Russians should they continue firing at citizens.
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Zelenskyy called the Russian troops "special targets" as 500 of them are currently placed at the nuclear plant since storming the site in March while Ukrainian technicians continue to run reactors.
Petro Kotin, the boss of the company that run the plant, said that there are 174 containers of radioactive material currently in danger of being hit, in a situation that could become reminiscent of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that was rated at seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which is the maximum severity of a nuclear event.
He said: “We could have a radiation cloud. The risk is very high.”
The Chernobyl disaster, which is situated 400 miles away from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in south-eastern Ukraine had killed at least 31 people and had also sent a radiation cloud across Europe with health effects of the disaster to the general public still somewhat unknown.
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While Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has attempted to warn both nations about the seriousness of the situation by saying: “This is a serious hour — a grave hour", Zelenskyy was bullish in his warning to Russia if they continue to go down the path they're on.
He said: “Every Russian soldier who shoots at the plant or shoots using the plant as cover must understand he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army.”
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