Ukraine readying for new Chernobyl-like nuclear DISASTER with hazmat drills

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UKRAINE is preparing for a Chernobyl-like nuclear disaster at the Russian occupied nuclear power plant amid fears the catastrophe could spread to Britain and all over Europe.

Hazmat suit and gas mask clad emergency servicemen were seen yesterday working in the city of Zaporizhzhia as the world stares down the barrel of another radiation nightmare.

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Ukraine has been holding out nuclear drills in case of a disaster at ZaporizhzhiaCredit: AFP

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Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend the exercise in the city of ZaporizhzhiaCredit: AFP

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Ukraine is preparing for the worst as Russia refuses to give up control of ZaporizhzhiaCredit: AFP

Ukraine ran the nuclear accident drills in the bombed out city – the closest to the Russian occupied plant – as they know better than any other country on Earth the risks associated with nuclear power.

Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the north of the country exploded and went into meltdown while under Soviet control back in the 1986.

It sent a radiation plume into the atmosphere which spread across the world and rendered huge swathes of Ukraine completely uninhabitable as they remain dangerously radioactive.

Kyiv has never forgotten the lessons learned from the disaster – which may have led to the early deaths of up to 60,000 people worldwide.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) has been in Russian hands since the early days of the war and has cast a long nuclear shadow over Ukraine.

Both sides are accusing the other of risking disaster as the war continues to rage around the plant – with shells and rockets falling dangerously close.

Britain along with 41 other nations have demanded that Russia withdraw troops from the plant and allow an urgent inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It has been warned an accident at ZNPP could impact the whole of Europe and the risk of such an incident are growing “every day”, said the city’s mayor Dmytro Orlov.

“Of course we are concerned, the situation changed dramatically when the Russians started shelling the area on August 5,” Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told the BBC.

Russian troops are allegedly keeping the workers at the plant at gunpoint as they live in fear of “radioactive contamination of the wider region” or potentially a “nuclear catastrophe”.

Ukraine’s hazmat drills yesterday show how seriously the embattled nation is taking the danger posed by ZNPP.

Olena, a refugee who fled the city of Enerhodar with her toddler, said: “It’s scary, very scary, there is shelling all the time.

“There have been many more explosions and it became too dangerous to stay there. I didn’t want to leave home, but I had no choice.”

Nato has called for the Russians to let the inspectors into the plant – but Vladimir Putin’s forces are still refusing to budge.

It is impossible to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant while the Russian occupying forces are there

Denys Monastyrskyy

And it has been suggested the area could become a demilitarised zone – but again, the Russians will not cooperate.

It is even feared Russia could attempt reroute the power from the plant to Crimea – the region it annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – and potentially leave hundreds of thousands without power.

Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrskyy said: “It is impossible to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant while the Russian occupying forces are there.

“It is the key concern that we all should understand.”

Troubling reports have continued to emerge from the plant – which is the biggest of its kind in Europe – in recent weeks, including claims the Russians have planted explosives on site.

Putin has been accused of using ZNPP is a pawn in a game of “nuclear blackmail”.

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Ukraine ministry workers carry geiger counters and wear gas masksCredit: AFP

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It is feared a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia could sweep across EuropeCredit: AFP

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Russia could trigger a disaster even bigger than ChernobylCredit: AFP

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Ukraine knows first hand the dangers of nuclear power stationsCredit: AFP

And with the bloody, grinding war now facing a long, bleak and cold winter – there are growing concerns mad Vlad could do something rash.

Ukraine’s hero president Volodymyr Zelensky braned the Russians “terrorists” for occupying the plant and accused them of using it as a base to store weapons.

He said: “If Russia’s actions cause a catastrophe, the consequences may also hit those who remain silent so far.

“All Russian troops must be immediately withdrawn from the plant and neighbouring areas without any conditions.”

Zelensky added: “Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army.”

Putin had reportedly expected the war to last a matter of days when he invaded back in February.

But instead he faced a valiant resistance from Ukraine and the Russians saw their initial offensive crash and burn.

And so what was meant to be a blitzkrieg-style march to Kyiv has ended up as a vicious and slow war, with Putin’s men accused of committing unspeakable atrocities.

Zaporizhzhia could be the biggest disaster facing the continent in decades.

In a statement, Britain and the other nations said: “The presence of Russian military forces at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant prevents the operator and the Ukrainian authorities from fulfilling their nuclear and radiation safety obligations in accordance with international conventions and IAEA safety standards.

“We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions.”

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Putin’s forces would try to “make it possible for IAEA specialists to appear at the station”.

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