Russia took control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the first day of the invasion and the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is also Europe's largest nuclear power plant, last week on Friday. The staff at the Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhia plants were captured with the sites and taken hostage by the Russian troops. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has expressed concerns over the conditions of the hostage Ukrainian workers in the captured nuclear plants.
The watchdog has expressed the possibility that the workers in the captured nuclear plants are being overworked in extremely unsafe environments with very little food and minimal sleep. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also noted that the Russians blocked vital channels of communication at both sites.
The DailyMail reported that workers taken hostage at the Chernobyl power plant are surviving at one meal per day, usually a bowl of porridge and two hours of sleep as they're forced to work the facility round the clock.
'Starving, Exhausted and Depressed'
The staff at the Chernobyl plant were taken hostage on the first day of the invasion. They are said to be 'starving, exhausted and depressed' as the invasion entered its 12th day. A site, which is usually run by 500 workers, is run by 100 workers, who are working continuously to prevent a nuclear meltdown and maintain safety.
The workers are reportedly sleeping for a maximum of two hours a day on their desks. "With nowhere to sleep and no blankets, many are only sleeping for two to four hours on desks or wherever they can find a space," a source close to Chernobyl site told the DailyMail.
'They are Running Out of Food and are Down to One Meal of Porridge a Day'
"They are running out of food and are down to one meal of porridge a day. They are fed once every 24 hours, if there is enough they might get extra bread," the source added. The staff is desperately raiding the lockers of colleagues in hopes of finding food, medicines, or hygiene products.
Yuri Fomichev, local civic leader described the situation as a 'danger to the world.' The mayor of Slavutych added that the 'people are exhausted, both mentally and emotionally, but mainly physically.' Slavutych was established in 1986 to house evacuated personnel from the Chernobyl disaster site.
'Every Action at the Plant Requires Approval from a Russian Commander'
UN agency chief Grossi expressed concern over the fact that every action at the plant required approval from a Russian commander. "The operating staff must be able to fulfill their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure," he said.
The IAEA noted that it was able to communicate with the staff via e-mails only, currently.