- Russian forces began their withdrawal from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster site in March.
- But Ukrainian workers are now discovering what they left behind — including human faeces.
- “The poop was the icing on the cake,” the deputy director of the Chernobyl Ecocenter, said.
- For more stories visit Business Insider.
Hundreds of Ukrainian workers were held hostage for weeks throughout the Russian occupation. Now workers are moving to clean up the site following the Russian troops’ withdrawal in late March after being affected by “significant doses of radiation.”
Aleksandr Barsukov, the deputy director of the Chernobyl Ecocenter, told The Journal that they have found spray-painted conference rooms, smashed computer screens, and 100 liters of high-quality vodka.
“The poop was the icing on the cake,” Barsukov said.
Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 Soviet nuclear disaster, was seized on the first day of the war for a total of five weeks.
After disturbing the soil, soldiers “panicked at the first sign” of radiation illness, which “showed up very quickly,” Ukrainian state power company Energoatom told The Guardian. The outlet reported that the panic led to the troops pulling out of the region.
“When the invasion started, the front guards got a call to fall back because a huge flow of Russian troops were coming,” said Julia Bezdizha, a spokeswoman for the plant, told WSJ. “They fled mainly because it was very dangerous to stay and engage in heavy combat because of the heavy radiation.”
Russian forces had also seized Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, at the start of the war. The occupation of the plants had some concerned about a nuclear reaction and increased radiation levels.
The exact impact on Russian soldiers is currently unknown, but troops were reported to have dug trenches in radioactive soil and moved about the plant without protective gear.
Radiation exposure can impact an individual’s health in many different ways — including acute radiation syndrome, cancer, and mental distress — according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yevhen Kramarenko, head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, said at a press conference in April that it’s unclear how radiation levels in the area have been impacted by the Russian forces.
But, he adds, “we believe very soon [the Russians] will feel the consequences of radiation that they have received. Some of them will feel it in months, some of them in years.”
“But anyway, all of the servicemen who were there will feel it at some point,” Kramarenko continued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine began on February 24 and is ongoing.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.