Radiation level at the Chornobyl nuclear power station increased steeply

A satellite image with overlaid graphics shows military vehicles alongside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine on February 25, 2022. MYND: BlackSky / Scanpix

After Russian forces invaded the territory of the Chornobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine in the evening of February 24, radiation level spreading from the site increased twenty times.

According to the Ukrainian radiation map www.saveecobot.com, the gamma radiation spreading from the territory of the Chornobyl nuclear power station increased twenty times between 8 – 9 kl. in the evening of February 24. The observation station recorded a dose rate of 65,500 nSv/h (nanosieverts per hour). Average radiation level of Chornobyl in the earlier days had remained at approximately 3,000 nSv/h.

Radiation level in Pripyat is presently 10,200 nSv/h (also twenty times), but lower in more remote areas. In some measuring stations the radiation level went up 33 times.

The ordinary radiation level in Estonia in 2020 was 30-102 nSv/h (according to the Environment Agency).

“The Ukrainian National Nuclear Inspectorate informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) members through official channels that gamma radiation dose rate has increased in some areas of the Chornobyl exclusion zone; the estimated cause of the increase could be the disturbing of the top layers of soil due to the traffic of a significant number of through heavy vehicles/military vehicles,” commented Teet Koitjärv, advisor of the Environmental Board climate and radiation department Friday afternoon. “It is presently impossible to verify this report because the area is occupied and hostilities are taking place there.”

Koitjärv assured that there is no radiation threat to Estonia’s population. “The Environmental Board is in contact with international institutions for radiation safety and is monitoring radiation level in Estonia around the clock," sagði hann.

“Our measuring stations transmit data even id power supply should be interrupted,” added director general of the Environmental Board Rainer Vakra.

Estonia’s radiation threat early warning network consists of 15 automatic monitoring stations, which measure gamma radiation level in the air in real time all over Estonia. The automatic stations are important for the discovery of possible cross-border radiological effect in case of radiation incidents in neighboring countries. The monitoring results can be observed at the website https://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/et/varajane-hoiatamine.

“We find that the increased radiation level has no consequences in Finland,” Postimees was also assured by Tomi Routamo, Deputy Director of Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), who had also been informed of the radiation increase. “It should be kept in mind that the soil around the nuclear power station is still highly contaminated. We have understood that the traffic of heavy vehicles has raised contaminated dust, which has caused the increase of radiation level. As far as we know there has been no escape of nuclear materials or radiation from the station.”

Russian troops entered the exclusion zone of the Chornobyl nuclear power station Thursday evening. Ukrainian troops guarding the storage facility of nuclear waste offered strong resistance but the Russians still managed to seize control over Chornobyl.