The Greenpeace Mission visited Ukraine

As a response to risk of a major catastrophic contamination from Ukrainian nuclear power plants, in partnership with environmental group SaveDnipro, Greenpeace deployed multiple radiation sensors to monitor and provide vital information on radiation levels in the event of a severe release. Greenpeace CEE urges immediate EU sanctions against Rosatom as the risk of a nuclear disaster increases due to the Russian war against Ukraine.

Following a visit to Chornobyl, Zaporizhzhia and other frontline regions in southern Ukraine, environmental NGOs Greenpeace and SaveDnipro urgently call for sanctions against Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation. The illegal occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in March 2022 by Rosatom and the Russian armed forces made the power plant particularly vulnerable to severe damage. Russian targeting of Ukraine’s energy sector further increases the risk of a nuclear disaster, not just at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant but also at other operating nuclear reactors. In March 2022, Russian armed forces attempted to seize the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv region, but were stopped 30 km away from the plant by the Ukrainian army. In addition, three weeks ago, missile attacks close to the Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Plant have caused damage to the plant’s administrative buildings.

Greenpeace team in Zaporizhzhia, November 2023
With the approaching winter, the risk of a nuclear disaster increases each day. It is outrageous that Rosatom is still treated by certain EU states as a respected business partner rather than a criminal nuclear blackmailer”, says Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist with Greenpeace in Ukraine. “The time has long passed when the Russian nuclear industry, Rosatom, should be punished by comprehensive sanctions. Those corporations in Europe, such as Framatome and Siemens, and governments with deep commercial ties to Rosatom, such as France and Hungary, are directly fueling the Russian war against Ukraine and its people. Sanctions must be imposed that end nuclear trade with Russia,” Burnie continues. 

Demands for sanctions against Rosatom, supported by Ukraine authorities and five EU governments, have been consistently blocked by the EU nuclear industry and their governments. The urgency of the situation, highlighted by the compromised security of nuclear power plants and the potential threat of a nuclear disaster, underlines the need for immediate sanctions.

During the Russian occupation of Zaporizhzhia, safety and security protocols were violated, and the prospect of deliberate radioactive contamination increased following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in June 2023. The emergency response and safety management procedures are no longer functioning, with very limited information being provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors on the site. The threat of further destructive actions and environmental war crimes by Russian forces, coupled with the ever-present risk of electricity supply loss, places the entire region, as well as Ukraine and potentially neighboring countries, at risk. 

The radiation sensors installed by Greenpeace and SaveDnipro on schools, hospitals and nuclear sites in southern Ukraine, aim to provide early warnings of increasing gamma radiation in case of another nuclear disaster in Ukraine. The sensors give real-time radiation levels via an online map called SaveEcoBot. They have been strategically placed in Zaporizhzhia City, Yuzhnoukrainsk, Odesa, Tarutyne, Yuzhne, and Uman. They have been installed following discussions and approval by regional authorities responsible for nuclear emergency planning. 

Radiation sensor installed by Greenpeace and SaveDnipro
"Our radiation sensors can't stop radiation, but they can provide vital information that can save lives in the possible event of a deliberate nuclear disaster. Having listened to the voices of local authorities and politicians across southern Ukraine, and following up on their efforts, Greenpeace is deeply committed to its work of supporting the Ukrainian population. By working hand in hand with local authorities and organizations, we are strengthening our capacity to monitor and respond to nuclear disaster risks together," said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace in Ukraine. The Greenpeace and SaveDnipro radiation sensors, along with emergency radiation recommendations, support the efforts of the local authorities and emergency services, providing an additional layer of protection for the local population. 

“Over the last 20 months of full-scale war, Russian forces have repeatedly attacked Ukrainian nuclear facilities and spread false information about radiation levels in Ukraine. This has sparked global concern about radiation safety in the country. To address this, there's a need to develop independent online networks and more transparent radiation monitoring through civic projects like our SaveEcoBot. These efforts can help reassure the public about the normal radiation levels in Ukraine and, in case of potential threats, provide the government with more data for decision-making,” said Pavlo Tkachenko, technical director and co-founder of SaveDnipro.

Sensor map: https://www.saveecobot.com/en/radiation-maps 

Video material and images: Link

Additional information:

Contacts

Lucia Sumegova - partnership coordinator - lucia.sumegova@greenpeace.org 

Polina Kolodiazhna - partnership coordinator - pkolodia@greenpeace.org 

Daryna Rogachuk- communication officer -
daryna.rogachuk@greenpeace.org
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