Chernobyl, Ukraine, 18 July 2022Near the ruins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, an international team of radiation experts led by Greenpeace Germany is examining abandoned Russian positions for radioactive contamination. Trenches and dugouts were built by Russian soldiers during their occupation of the Chernobyl site in March. About 600 soldiers were deployed there. The research project is being conducted with the approval of the Ukrainian government and in cooperation with scientists from the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM).

For the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion, independent measurements will be taken and the April 28 statement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be assessed. According to the IAEA, while there was increased radiation the levels did not pose a great danger to the environment or people. The IAEA’s deputy director is Mikhail Chudakov, a long-time employee of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom.[1]

Copyright: Greenpeace/Conny Boettger

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert from Greenpeace Germany, on site in Chernobyl, said: 

We want to know what really happened on the ground. The IAEA’s information so far is insufficient. The Ukrainian authorities are enabling the Greenpeace Germany research team to gather independent information about radiation safety in the region. This includes investigating the radioactive contamination that deposited in the Exclusion Zone when the Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986. Between seven and nine tonnes of nuclear fuel were pulverized and ejected into the atmosphere in the 1986 explosion.” 

During the Russian occupation of the Chernobyl region, Greenpeace experts warned that this could lead to increased radioactive contamination. But the IAEA gave an “all-clear” at the end of April. The nuclear agency has a mandate to promote nuclear power.[2] “While the European Commission actively supports nuclear power by including it in its taxonomy. It’s more important than ever to investigate the environmental impact of Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster,” said Burnie.


[1] Greenpeace International, Greenpeace calls for IAEA to suspend deputy over ties to Russian state nuclear energy corporation, 15 March 2022

[2] International Atomic Energy Agency, The Statute of the IAEA