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Chernobyl: ‘Not a place to have ammo flying around’

Russian forces have taken control of Chernobyl, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster and a place that remains radioactive to this day – prompting significant concern from international nuclear watchdogs.

Prof Claire Corkhill, nuclear materials expert at Sheffield University, told the BBC about the dangers of military clashes taking place near the site. 

“This is not a place to have ammunition flying around,” she said.

The Chernobyl site contains several nuclear waste containment facilities – including the “new safe confinement” – the protective dome that covers the reactor that was so badly damaged by the infamous 1986 explosion.

“These buildings are designed to keep radioactive materials inside, but they’re not necessarily armoured; they’re not designed to operate in a war zone,” she said. 

Prof Corkhill said that although piercing one of these structures wouldn’t necessarily cause a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster – where plumes of radioactive material dispersed across Europe – it could “set us back 30 years in terms of the work that has been done clearing up the site”. 

It could release and disperse radioactive material in the local area, she said.

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