“SE “Ecocenter” in the city of Chernobyl was looted”

Today, State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management officially confirmed that SE “Ecocenter” in the city of Chornobyl was looted. This was to be expected. From what we know today – the invaders are not actually engaged in administration of the occupied territories. Such an option was not provided in the blitzkrieg scheme. We see the result everywhere – violence, destruction and looting. Historian Jean Favier in his book The Hundred Years’ War called such a regime “the time of the flayer”. Perhaps this is a form of informal reward for the servicemen for participating in a military campaign.

I worked for 16 years in the information and analytical department in “Ecocenter”  The Enterprise was engaged in radiation control and radiation-environmental monitoring of the Exclusion Zone. The radiation control is the dosimetrists and tens of thousands of direct measurements during the year that they made: transport to the checkpoint, points in the places of work and residence of personnel, cargo, inspection of cemeteries, work on crime and much more. Radiation and environmental monitoring is the control of the radiation state of the environment in the Exclusion Zone. During the year, about 5,000 samples were collected according to a rigid system – air, water, soil, aquatic organisms and much more. All that in the laboratory turned into 12 thousand results, which showed the content of basic radionuclides (cesium, strontium and transuranic elements) in the selected samples. The key element in this process was the laboratory. Radiochemistry and spectrometry are very expensive and complicated. Expensive equipment and consumables, expensive staff who need a long time to prepare for this work. Eight years ago, the Central Analytical Laboratory was established on the basis of spectrometry and radiochemistry laboratories, which was to provide analysis of radioactive waste that would be stored in the Exclusion Zone. Literally everything was redone: new premises were created, equipment worth 6 million euros was purchased and installed.

Now it’s looted. We do not know the details, but there may be two options. The first is the expropriation with the participation of Rosatom specialists or other organizations such as the Kurchatov Institute. The second is a banal looting of non-ferrous metal. I lean towards the latter.

The Ecocenter is not just a central analytical laboratory. It is also the impressive fleet of dosimetric equipment, mobile laboratory for radiation reconnaissance, control room for an automatic control system and much more. And last but not least – data. The gigabytes of valuable information on servers, magazines, reports, maps and literature.

This is not about losing equipment in its monetary terms. Time is destroyed, what you will not return – years of work and development. I remember in 2007 we changed the automatic radiation monitoring system from the Soviet “Tuna” to the European SkyLink. Every subsequent year, the number of sensors was increased not only in the Exclusion Zone, but also beyond it. In 2012, a complete reconstruction of the laboratory complex was carried out. In 2016, the existing laboratory was shown to the Austrian Minister of the Environment.

There is still a question of the fate of the radioactive materials, remained there: calibration sources, samples, including highly active.

The IAEA and other international organizations can continue to write releases about the situation and comfort themselves that everything is under control. Before the first terrorist attack with the “dirty bomb”. Don’t look up.

Author – Denys Vyshnevskyi

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