White House is ‘outraged’ over reports that staff at Chernobyl have been taken hostage by Russian forces
Kelsey Vlamis – February 24, 2022
- Russian forces took over the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine on Thursday.
- Press secretary Jen Psaki called reports the plant’s staff was taken hostage “incredibly alarming.”
- It’s unclear how the Russian takeover will affect efforts to maintain radioactivity at the site.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is outraged over reports from Ukrainian officials that staff at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine have been taken hostage by Russian troops.
Russian forces took over the remnants of Chernobyl earlier on Thursday during the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The move indicated Russia is likely to assault Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, which is located just south of Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
“We’re outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facility hostage,” Psaki said during a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, adding “we condemn it and we request their release.”
Psaki said the situation at Chernobyl was not clear but that the hostage taking was “incredibly alarming and greatly concerning,” adding it could hurt efforts to maintain the facility, which is dangerously contaminated with radioactivity as a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster.
Earlier on Thursday, an adviser to the head of the plant said: “After a fierce battle, Ukrainian control over the Chernobyl site was lost. The condition of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, confinement, and nuclear waste storage facilities is unknown.”
Russia’s takeover sparked concerns that it would jeopardize the decades-long efforts to contain the nuclear disaster, including a billion-dollar investment in a containment dome in 2016. It’s unclear how the dome would hold up to combat damage, Insider’s Brent D. Griffiths reported.