The first act of nuclear terror in the history of humankind happened in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Northern district of our city, Piatykhatky, includes the residential area and the terrain of the National Science Centre “Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology”, which hosts a scientific nuclear reactor.

The border with Russia is 22 kilometers away. The district had been shelled and bombed with precision guided weapons for 6 months during February-August 2022, which resulted in complete lack of power supply for 40 days in Spring 2022. We have been documenting the damages to the area in depth.

The nuclear reactor was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which concluded that “it had been heavily damaged by shelling during the current military conflict in the country, but without any indication of radiological release or diversion of declared nuclear material”.

However I believe there still is a lingering danger of a nuclear explosion and local scale ecological catastrophe. Why?

I think there is a possibility of radioactive contamination by further destruction of the nuclear facility by structural fatigue as a result of previous damage. And due to the proximity to the Russian border, shelling and bombing of the nuclear facility can be renewed.

There is no mitigation plan shared with the local community. The danger is not understood by the majority of citizens due to complicated technical nature.

An ongoing civic monitoring of this nuclear facility is needed to prevent the further contamination.

Nataliya Zubar, physicist, war crimes documentalist, Chair of Maidan Monitoring Information Center, Kharkiv


February 13, 2024, a criminal indictment for the first act of nuclear terrorism in human history was filed against five high-ranking and senior officer of the Russian army for shelling the territory of the Kharkiv Physical and Technical Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which Russian troops systematically attacked from March 6 to the beginning of September 2022.

This indictment is a result of an enormous amount of work of investigators, prosecutors, experts and independent specialists, which lasted for almost two years, in which the Kharkiv team of Maidan Monitoring Information Center was involved, in particular Serhiy Petrov and Nataliya Zubar. For us, this is a great honour, a great challenge and a civic duty.

Read more here “Five Russian top officers are indicted for bombing and shelling a nuclear facility in Kharkiv” (in Ukrainian, English translation is in works)

Marketa Vorel, a volunteer lawyer from the USA, reports from Kharkiv about nuclear danger. She visited the area where National Science Center ‘Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology’ is located, which is a site of a scientific nuclear reactor. The reactor was damaged due to shelling and bombing by Russian army in March-September 2022. It is very difficult to determine the extent of the damage that has been done to the nuclear reactor. Extensive research is required in order to determine what can be done to ensure nuclear safety.

Read the in-depth wartime story of the neighborhood of the National Science Center ‘Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology’  

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About Nataliya Zubar 2357 Articles
Nataliya Zubar, Maidan Monitoring Information Center, Chair

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