A DIGGER claw believed to have been used in the clean-up of Chernobyl has been found abandoned in a forest – and experts fear it is so radioactive a single touch could KILL.
Radiation expert Rob Maxwell stumbled across the ultra-radioactive machinery on a tour of Pipryat, Ukraine in 2011.
He says the rusting claw was used to clear up ultra-radioactive graphite from the power station’s destroyed core 33 years ago.
A private guide took him to see its final resting place – and claimed it was the most dangerous object in the exclusion zone.
Maxwell told News.com.au: “It’s severely, potently lethal.
“There are many things in the zone today for which contact for any prolonged period will definitely kill you, and the Claw is definitely the most dangerous of all because it’s not roped off or inaccessible like other hazards.
“I put my hand inside it because I wanted to get a reading with the Geiger counter. Was I worried? Yes, but I was worried the whole time.
“The guide kept saying to me, ‘Do not touch it, do NOT touch it!’ So I just put my hand in very quickly and took it out again
“It wasn’t easy to get a reading because the Geiger counter was climbing so fast and, because it’s a digital reading, every time I took a photo it was between digits, so I kept getting a blank screen.
“The one photo that came out readable was showing 39.80 microsieverts per hour (uSv/h).”
WHAT WAS THE CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR DISASTER?
POWER PLANT MELTDOWN
An alarm bellowed out at the nuclear plant on April 26, 1986, as workers looked on in horror at the control panels signalling a major meltdown in the number four reactor.
The safety switches had been switched off in the early hours to test the turbine but the reactor overheated and generated a blast the equivalent of 500 nuclear bombs.
The reactor’s roof was blown off and a plume of radioactive material was blasted into the atmosphere.
As air was sucked into the shattered reactor, it ignited flammable carbon monoxide gas causing a fire which burned for nine days.
The catastrophe released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Soviet authorities waited 24 hours before evacuating the nearby town of Pripyat – giving the 50,000 residents just three hours to leave their homes.
After the accident traces of radioactive deposits were found in Belarus where poisonous rain damaged plants and caused animal mutations.
But the devastating impact was also felt in Scandinavia, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, France and the UK.
An 18-mile radius known as the “Exclusion Zone” was set up around the reactor following the disaster.
At least 31 people died in the accident – including two who were killed at the scene and more who passed away a few months later from Acute Radiation Syndrome.
The actual death toll is hard to predict as mortality rates have been hidden by propaganda and reports were lost when the Soviet Union broke up.
In 2005, the World Health Organisation revealed a total of 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure.
About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been seen since the disaster – mainly in people who were children or teenagers at the time.
A lethal radiation dose is estimated to be around 10,000,000 microsieverts.
The Chernobyl disaster – depicted in a recent Sky mini-series – released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
At least 31 people were killed in the accident while thousands more have died since from radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.
MOST READ IN NEWS
Ukraine opened Chernobyl to tourists in 2011. Its government said nearly 72,000 visited last year – up from 50,000 in 2017.
A private tour for two foreigners costs around £200.
Sergii Ivanchuk, owner of travel firm SoloEast, which last year took nearly 12,000 tourists to the site, said: “Travel to Ukraine has become cheap. Fewer and fewer people are interested in religion, but we have cheap beer and Chernobyl.”
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