31 Mar 2023

SURVEY – Radiation Reconnaissance of De-occupied Territories in Kyiv Region

Radiation Survey of Deoccupied Territories in Kyiv Region (© SSTC NRS)
Radiation Survey of Deoccupied Territories in Kyiv Region (© SSTC NRS)

The full-scale invasion of the russian federation troops into the territory of Ukraine caused many political, economic, social troubles and problems. In addition to the destroyed infrastructure and huge mined areas, Ukraine also faced a radiation threat. In addition to the more than 1 year ZNPP occupation, the territory of the exclusion zone and the zone of unconditional (obligatory) resettlement was captured for a month, looted and mutilated.

The radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone was damaged significantly. It is quite clear that equipment and enemy personnel moved across the exclusion territory without meeting the established safe routes, and when military equipment left the zone without operating decontamination posts and radiation monitoring measures, radioactive contamination spread to intercity roads and city streets near the exclusion zone and the zone of unconditional (obligatory) resettlement.

Immediately after Kyiv region de-occupation, inventory of radiation sources was conducted at the enterprises of the exclusion zone. Thus, more than a hundred calibration sources and radioactive reference solutions were found to be missing from storage facilities. The theft of highly active samples (containing fuel material) from scientific laboratories was also reported. In addition, social networks and media disseminated information that the occupying forces took equipment, tools, and materials contaminated with radionuclides beyond the exclusion zone, which posed an additional danger to the population of the Kyiv region, in whose houses the russian troops accommodated.

Radiation survey of destroyed buildings in Kyiv region (© SSTC NRS)
Radiation survey of destroyed buildings in Kyiv region (© SSTC NRS)

The current situation required immediate measures to search for and collect radiation sources and radioactively contaminated objects outside the exclusion zone, assess and document the damage caused, and raise public awareness of the radiation risks associated with hostilities. However, the attention of the majority of national services involved in the activities of the emergency preparedness and response system, in the conditions of war, was shifted to purely military potential threats that could lead to death among the public on the territory of Ukraine.

In order to identify and reduce exposure risks for the public as a result of contact with radiation sources or radioactive contamination, as well as to reduce public anxiety associated with the presence of occupiers in the exclusion zone, the SURVEY project was launched. It was implemented in the framework of cooperation between the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA) and State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine.

The project included two phases of survey physically performed by experts from the SSTC NRS Emergency Preparedness and Radiation Monitoring Department as part of the crew of the radiation survey laboratory.

Within the project, more than 840 km of roads in the Kyiv region, 63 apartments, 132 private houses with household plots, 130 public places and institutions, as well as more than 400 household and military items used by or belonging to the personnel of the occupation troops were surveyed.

The experience gained within the project will be used to survey the industrial regions of Ukraine to be liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, because a similar, or even more difficult situation is expected to arise there, taking into account the widespread use of radiation sources at enterprises in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions. After the de-occupation of these territories, radiation survey should become one of the priority measures, and the SURVEY project is a preparation for this large-scale work.


Tetiana Verbytska
Head of Public Relations