Aug 11, 2022

Warning signs inside Chernobyl amid Russia’s war in Ukraine Transcript

Warning signs inside Chernobyl amid Russia's war in Ukraine Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsChernobylWarning signs inside Chernobyl amid Russia’s war in Ukraine Transcript

ABC’s Britt Clennett travels inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone to see how decades after the nuclear catastrophe, the scar of what happened is still on full display. Read the transcript here.

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Kayna Whitworth: (00:00)
… to calls for Russia to return control of Europe’s largest nuclear plant to Ukraine after explosions there this week. And all of this is coming under the shadow, of course, of what happened in Chernobyl decades ago. Britt Clennett traveled to Chernobyl and files this report.

Britt Clennett: (00:18)
Tonight renewed shelling around Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of recent attacks that have damaged a storage facility that holds spent fuel. For now, Ukraine reporting radiation levels at the plant are normal. But today, G7 foreign ministers demanding Russia hand back full control of the plant to Ukraine because of the potential for catastrophe, something the world is all too familiar with.

Britt Clennett: (00:45)
We’re now entering the town of Chernobyl, which at the moment just looks like it’s full of empty buildings and forest. Today we visited Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster back in 1986.

Speaker 3: (00:58)
The uranium nuclear core, it’s spreading clouds of radioactive cesium and iodine in what could be fatal doses.

Speaker 4: (01:05)
I can’t really see how they’re going to get enough water in there.

Speaker 5: (01:07)
How do you put the fire out?

Speaker 6: (01:10)
Will they drop a bomb on it? How do they shut it down?

Speaker 7: (01:13)
I would imagine you would let it burn itself out. I just don’t know.

Britt Clennett: (01:17)
This is pretty eerie. It’s an abandoned amusement park. They’ve got dodgem cars, a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel that was built five days before the nuclear reactor four went off. All these decades later, it’s a place still stuck in the horror of the past. So just here where I’m standing, this is where the firefighters came after they got word that a blast had happened in nuclear reactor four behind me. They had their hoses out. They were trying to control it. But at the end of the day, they had no idea about the safety of the plant and how it would affect their health.

Britt Clennett: (01:51)
Tens of thousands displaced, dozens of deaths and countless more exposed to radioactive material. The Soviet Union was forced to create a 19 mile exclusion zone that is still unoccupied today. So we’re about to head into one of the shelters now. In 1986, this is where some of the workers took cover. And in March this year during Russian occupation, this is where some of the Ukrainians were held.

Britt Clennett: (02:17)
Before we could enter, we had to follow strict protocol to check my radiation levels. Obviously my radiation levels were normal and that means you can keep going in. Inside this vast concrete shelter, we see rows of empty beds and posters plastered along the wall advising what to do in an emergency. During the Russian occupation, this is where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers were held. Some were released, but about 160 were sent to Russia.

Britt Clennett: (02:44)
Russian tanks and troops took Chernobyl on the first day of the February invasion, kicking up clouds of radioactive dust. In March, the plant lost power temporarily, triggering concerns about the potential for a major radiation link. The Russians were forced to withdraw in April. Locals hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

Speaker 8: (03:04)
It can happen suddenly that was really unacceptable. And of course it shouldn’t happen again.

Britt Clennett: (03:17)
Are you worried it will happen again?

Speaker 8: (03:19)
Unfortunately, yes. Regarding to the situation by Zaporizhzhia Power Plant.

Britt Clennett: (03:25)
And tonight Kayna, concern over the Zaporizhzhia Plant intensifying just as Ukraine attacked Russian held Crimea for the first time, reportedly destroying several Russian war planes. There are fears this could escalate the conflict. Kayna.

Kayna Whitworth: (03:39)
And Britt Clennett, our thanks to you for that incredible story.

George Stephanopoulos: (03:43)
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