International Atomic Energy Agency loses contact with safeguards monitoring systems at Chernobyl

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Systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl in Ukraine, which were taken over by Russian forces last month, have stopped transmitting data to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, it said on Tuesday.

"The Director General ... indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

Safeguards refers to the field of IAEA work aimed at keeping track of nuclear material.

This comes Ukraine has lost regulatory control over all the facilities in the Chernobyl exclusion zone to the Russians and asked the IAEA to undertake measures “in order to reestablish legal regulation of safety of nuclear facilities and installations” within the site, the statement added.

Reactor number four at the power plant exploded and caught fire in 1986, shattering the building and spewing radioactive material high into the sky.

Even 36 years later, radioactivity is still leaking from history’s worst nuclear disaster.

Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that staff who have been kept at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant since Russian troops took control of the site are facing “psychological pressure and moral exhaustion”, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog has said.

IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said that the staff must be allowed to rest and rotate so their crucial work can be carried out safely and securely.

Mr Grossi received “a joint appeal from the Ukraine Government, regulatory authority and the national operator which added that personnel at the Chernobyl site ‘have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work’,” the IAEA said in a statement.