It won’t come as a surprise that radioactive contamination is a major headache facing the government of Ukraine, the country that inherited the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. What is surprising is that much of that contamination is no longer coming from Chernobyl at all. Instead, it originates at a site that’s remained largely unknown to the outside world – and that poses, according to some experts, an even graver danger than the ghosts of the world’s most famous nuclear disaster. To reach it, you travel about 10 hours by road to the southeast from the Chernobyl site near the Belarussian border into center of the country. There, along the banks of the Dnieper River, lie the neglected remains of one of the Soviet Union’s largest nuclear weapons production factories and uranium mining facilities. It’s called the Pridnieproskvy Chemical Plant and it now houses more than 15 times the amount of radioactive waste to be found within the rubble of Chernobyl’s No 4 reactor, which exploded in 1986. Much of this waste lies in the open air, wholly unshielded from humans and the environment, or marked off by patches of fencing that gives no warning about what it encloses. In other places at the site, long neglected waste from uranium processing, called uranium tailings, emits toxic gasses and leaks into ground water and waterways.
Bellona 23rd Sept 2021 read more »