On the anniversary of the 1986 Chornobyl accident, the EU reiterates its utmost concern over the nuclear safety and security risks caused by Russia’s recent actions at the Chornobyl site. Russia’s illegal and unjustified aggression in Ukraine again jeopardises nuclear safety on our continent, says a joint statement released by EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.
“Thirty-six years ago, the accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant led to one of the most horrific nuclear incidents in history. This long-lasting tragedy has had widespread consequences in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and in other parts of Europe, causing fatalities, human suffering, long-term health damage, food shortages, and polluting the environment,” says the statement. “Some 350,000 people had to leave their homes in severely contaminated areas, with social and economic consequences that continue to this day.”
The EU is now deeply concerned that Russia has targeted and occupied Ukrainian nuclear sites, recklessly damaging the facilities. According to Borrell and Simson, “the unlawful occupation and the interruption of normal operations, such as preventing the rotation of personnel, undermine the safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine and significantly raise the risk of an accident.”
The EU’s officials also called on Moscow to return control of the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the Ukrainian authorities and refrain from any further actions targeting nuclear installations.
The EU has been among the first to react to the Chornobyl disaster. It has provided €432 million for the Chornobyl New Safe Confinement, along with loans worth €600 million, together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to Ukraine’s Comprehensive Safety Upgrade Programme for safety improvements of other nuclear power plants in Ukraine.
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