Russian Soldiers Poisoned By Radiation In Chernobyl's Red Forest
UKRAINE - Two workers that were on duty at the Chernobyl site when Russian soldiers took control of it have stated that Russian soldiers, who wore no radiation suits drove through the 'Red Forest' located near the reactor kicking up clouds of radioactive dust. 500 soldiers are now reportedly being admitted to a hospital in Belarus for radiation poisoning.
Two workers that were on duty at the Chernobyl site when Russian soldiers took control of it have stated that Russian soldiers, who wore no radiation suits drove through the 'Red Forest' located near the reactor kicking up clouds of radioactive dust.
The workers stated told Reuters that driving through the 'Red Forest' is "suicidal", as the radioactive dust that they would have breathed in will likely contaminate the inside of their bodies.
The Red Forest, which is the most contaminated part of the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, is an area consisting of about 4 square miles of pine trees that turned red after soaking up the radiation following the nuclear reactor explosion in 1986.
Ukraine's state nuclear inspectorate stated on February 25th that radiation levels at Chernobyl had risen due to the heavy military vehicles and tanks disturbing the soil in the area.
One of the workers said that the regular soldiers that they had spoken to at the site had not heard about the Chernobyl explosion according to Reuters.
"When they were asked if they knew about the 1986 catastrophe, the explosion of the fourth block (of the Chernobyl plant), they did not have a clue. They had no idea what kind of a facility they were at" the worker stated.
"We talked to regular soldiers. All we heard from them was 'It's critically important infrastructure'. That was it", he added.
A large chunk of area around the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor is prohibited for anyone to enter except those that work at the facility or who have special permission and in protective gear.
The Red Forest, which was used by the Russian military to travel through is so highly radiated however, that not even those who work at the facility are allowed to enter the area.
Both employees who were there at the time said that the Russian military convoy used an abandoned road to pass through, and told Reuters, "A big convoy of military vehicles drove along a road right behind our facility and this road goes past the Red Forest".
"The convoy kicked up a big column of dust. Many radiation safety sensors showed exceeded levels" he stated.
Valery Seida, who is the acting general director of the Chernobyl power plant said that he was not on the location at the time and was not there to witness the Russian convoy traveling through the Red Forest, but he did say that he was told by witnesses that the Russian military were driving all around the exclusion zone and may have passed through the Red Forest.
Seida told Reuters, "Nobody goes there ... for God's sake. There is no one there" and said that workers at the plant told the Russian military to show caution in regards to radiation but that he had no evidence to indicate that they paid any attention to the warnings.
"They drove wherever they needed to" he said.
Ukraine's State Agency of Management the Exclusion Zone had stated on February 27th that the last record it had on one of its sensors near the waste storage facilities of the nuclear power plant showed that the radiation it had absorbed was 7 times higher than normal.
In February however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that although radiation levels at Chernobyl reached 9.46 microsieverts per hour, they remained "within an operating range" and posed no threat to the general population.
IAEA standards state that safe levels are up to 1 millisievert per year for the general populous and 20 millisievert per year for professionals who deal with radiation. One millisievert equals 1,000 mcrosieverts. On March 9th however, the IAEA said that data from the Chernobyl site had stopped.
There are now reports coming out that 500 Russian soldiers (7 busloads of people) who were allegedly in the Red Forest zone at Chernobyl now being admitted to a hospital in Belarus.