Saturday 24 February 2018

Adi's Chernobyl terror attack fear as Ukraine crisis grows

Adi Roche holds a Geiger counter in the exclusion zone, close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Adi Roche holds a Geiger counter in the exclusion zone, close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Adi Roche holds a Geiger counter in the exclusion zone, close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

CHERNOBYL's infamous nuclear reactor is a prime target for terrorists as the crisis in Ukraine escalates, the head of Chernobyl Children International has warned.

Describing the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster as a "ticking timebomb", Adi Roche said the unstable nuclear reactor was already another accident waiting to happen long before tensions began to develop between Russia and Crimea in eastern Ukraine.

But as the country now teeters on the brink of war on the 28th anniversary of the devastating explosion on April 26, 1986, Ms Roche said she and others who are familiar with the site are extremely concerned.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, she said the Irish children's charity, which provides life-saving operations and rehabilitation for children affected by the long-term effects of radiation, deems the current political situation there to be too dangerous and volatile to send their teams of surgeons to the region for the foreseeable future.

But even more worrying is the prospect of terrorists attacking the site, which still houses 97pc of the volatile and radioactive materials that were not released into the atmosphere during the explosion.

"There's more than one potential target at the site," she said. "In the heat of the moment, anything is possible."

Adding to her worry is the fact that the $2bn (€1.45bn) containment shield to cover the reactor – that will be twice the size of Croke Park and tall enough to house the Statue of Liberty – is in serious jeopardy of not being completed within a reasonable timeframe.

Construction of the shield, or giant sarcophagus, which is designed to replace the "temporary" shield that is badly leaking, was due to be completed by the end of 2015 but it now looks like it could be delayed for another two years, Ms Roche added.

Russia has pledged €15m towards the containment programme, but there is growing uncertainty if it will honour that pledge due to the ongoing conflict in the region, she added. In the meantime, the current shield is crumbling and leaking radiation and could be a prime target for terrorists, she said.

Irish Independent

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