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shift change

Chernobyl workers replaced after marathon stint following Russian takeover

Officials had repeatedly expressed alarm that the staff were suffering from exhaustion after weeks of forced, unrelieved work.

MANAGEMENT OF THE Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, said that 50 staff members who had been on the job since the plant was seized by Russian forces on February 24 have been rotated out and replaced.

Officials had repeatedly expressed alarm that the staff were suffering from exhaustion after weeks of forced, unrelieved work.

This endangered the decommissioned plant’s safety, officials added.

The authority that manages the plant did not give specifics on how agreement was reached to let the workers leave and others come in to replace them.

Those who left were replaced by other Ukrainian staff, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Grossi said. said in a statement late Sunday.

“It is a positive -– albeit long overdue –- development that some staff at the Chernobyl NPP have now rotated and returned to their families,” Grossi said.

“They deserve our full respect and admiration for having worked in these extremely difficult circumstances. They were there for far too long. I sincerely hope that remaining staff from this shift can also rotate soon.”

Around 100 technicians have been working under armed guard to maintain the site since then.

Grossi, who had expressed deep concern about the well-being of the Ukrainian staff at the site, “welcomed the news about the partial rotation of personnel,” the IAEA said.

“Before today’s rotation, the same work shift had been on-site since the day before the Russian forces entered the area,” it continued.

It is unclear why Russian soldiers seized Chernobyl, where the destroyed reactor is kept under close supervision within a concrete and lead sarcophagus, and the three other reactors are being decommissioned.

In 2017, the site was one of several Ukrainian targets hit by a massive cyberattack thought to have originated in Russia, which briefly took its radiation monitoring system off-line.

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