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Ukraine opens new nuclear waste site at Chernobyl via AP

By YURAS KARMANAU

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president on Monday unveiled a new nuclear waste repository at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster that unfolded exactly 35 years ago. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Chernobyl together with Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and vowed to “transform the exclusion zone, as Chernobyl is referred to, into a revival zone.”

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Grossi said on Twitter Monday that the IAEA “will continue working tirelessly in addressing decommissioning, radioactive waste and environmental remediation related with Chernobyl accident.”

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More than 600,000 people took part in fighting the consequences of the disaster. Thirty plant workers and firefighters died within the first few months after the accident. 

Eventually, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the vicinity and the 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) exclusion zone was established where the only activity was workers disposing of waste and tending to a hastily built sarcophagus covering the reactor. 

Radiation continued to leak from the reactor building until 2019, when the entire building was covered by an enormous arch-shaped shelter. 

On the 35th anniversary of the disaster on Monday, Ukrainian authorities declassified documents showing that serious accidents occurred at the power plant several times before April 26, 1986.

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