Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Chernobyl

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that Russian forces had made "a declaration of war against the whole of Europe" by entering the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in northern Ukraine. (Photo: Ukrainian Presidency / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Reported Fighting Near Chernobyl Sparks Fears of Nuclear Disaster

"If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl can happen again in 2022."

Julia Conley

Update (12:45 pm ET):

The Ukrainians have reportedly lost control of the Chernobyl site after fighting broke out there.

"After a fierce battle, Ukrainian control over the Chernobyl site was lost," said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the former Chernobyl power plant on Thursday. "The condition of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, confinement, and nuclear waste storage facilities is unknown."

"It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," Podolyak told Reuters. "This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today."

Personnel at the site have reportedly been taken hostage.

Earlier:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that Russian forces have made "a declaration of war against the whole of Europe" by entering the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in northern Ukraine and fighting the country's troops there.

"Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Zelensky said in a statement. "Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated."

The reported invasion of the area surrounding Chernobyl, the former power plant which was the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, sparked fears of the spread of radioactive nuclear waste contained there underground.

"If the invader's artillery hits and ruins/damages the collectors of nuclear waste, radioactive nuclear dust can be spread over the territory of Ukraine, Belarus, and the [countries] of the E.U.," warned Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Herashchenk.

The 1986 meltdown of a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl left the 1,000-square mile region surrounding it "one of the most radioactive places on Earth," according to the New York Times.

Dmytro Gumenyuk, a radiation safety expert based in Kyiv, told British news outlet i Wednesday that with a lack of high-precision weapons in the region, Ukrainian or Russian forces could accidentally hit "sensitive facilities" and "radiation could contaminate air, soil, and waterways, affecting not only Ukraine but also Russia and much of Europe."

"In 1986, the world saw the biggest technological disaster in Chernobyl,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry tweeted. "If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl can happen again in 2022."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Trump Turns to SCOTUS Over Mar-a-Lago Docs, But 'It Won't Stop DOJ'

"This is a very specific and narrow request by Trump the merits of which turn on a technical jurisdictional question, but which runs into fatal procedural obstacles long before that," said one analyst. "It's not laughable, but only because it's small."

Jessica Corbett ·


Despite Calls for Diplomacy to End War, US Confirms More Weapons Headed to Ukraine

"Are there still negotiation possibilities?" asked Noam Chomsky. "There's only one way to find out. That's to try. If you refuse to try, of course, there's no option, no possibilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn SCOTUS May Gut 'Foundational' Digital Rights Law

"Weakening Section 230 would be catastrophic—disproportionately silencing and endangering marginalized communities," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


Report Reveals How Utilities' Climate Pledges Amount to 'Textbook Greenwashing'

Despite the passage of nearly $370 billion in renewable energy funding, the nation's utilities are squandering "a massive opportunity for clean electricity and electrification."

Julia Conley ·


$158,000 Cost for ALS Treatment Called 'A Poster Child' for Unjust Drug Pricing

"The price of the newly approved drug combination Relyvrio to treat ALS," said one critic, "is yet another clear and powerful example of unjustified high prices set by drug companies that ultimately exploit patients."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo