Photo Credit: Dana Sacchett / IAEA
Interior view of the control room of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant unit 3. Over 3,000 people continue to work at Chernobyl to monitor nuclear fuel and carry out the decommissioning of the facility.

Tuesday’s global cyber attack has added an unexpected bit of risk to the picture: One of the numerous systems affected by the cyber attack in Ukraine – a key system – is the automatic radiation monitoring system at the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Workers at the plant are now being forced to use hand-held counters to measure the radiation levels at the plant, as was done decades ago.

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The Ukraine federal exclusion zone agency that now runs the destroyed nuclear plant said in a statement Tuesday, “Due to the temporary disconnection of the Windows system, the radiation monitoring in the area of the industrial site is carried out manually… [The] technological systems of the station operate in the normal mode,” agency spokesperson Olena Kovalchuk assured the AFP news agency, but added, “in connection with the cyber attack, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant website is not working.”

Chernobyl was the site of the worst nuclear disaster in global history, which took place when a reactor at the plant exploded in 1986, leading to a 19-mile dead zone around the site – uninhabited to this day – and mass evacuations.

More than 200 tonnes of uranium still remain at the site. The destroyed reactor was enclosed last year in a huge metal structure in an attempt to finally stop radiation leaks that have continued.

Thousands of residents were rushed into surgeries that were performed to remove thyroid glands in order to save their lives due to the massive intake of radiation they absorbed. Many of the Jews who later made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) still bear those scars today.

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