According to workers at the site, Russian soldiers drove armored vehicles through Chernobyl’s highly deadly “red forest” without radiation protection, stirring up clouds of radioactive dust.
The act was “suicidal” for the soldiers who had seized the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, according to a Chernobyl employee, because the radioactive dust they inhaled was likely to inflict internal radiation on their bodies.
The two Ukrainian workers were on the job when Russian tanks stormed Chernobyl on February 24, seizing control of the facility, where workers are still in charge of safely storing spent nuclear material and overseeing the concrete-encased ruins of the reactor that exploded in 1986.
Ukraine’s state nuclear inspectorate reported that radiation levels at Chernobyl had increased as a result of heavy military vehicles disrupting the earth, however, the specifics of what transpired had not been revealed until recently.
After taking control of the plant, Russia’s troops claimed that radiation levels were normal, and that their actions prevented possible “nuclear provocations” by Ukrainian nationalists.
The red forest, so named because dozens of square kilometers of pine trees became red after absorbing radiation from the explosion, is so toxic that even nuclear plant staff are forbidden to visit it.
Ukrainian officials continue to regard the Chernobyl exclusion zone as unsafe and under Ukrainian legislation, entering the catastrophe scene without permission is a crime.
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