Another Ukrainian scientist has warned about deterioration of the Sarcophagus covering Chernobyl’s crippled fourth reactor. “The general negative trends are growing,” said Aleksandr Kliuchnykov, whose technical centre is in charge of research at the Sarcophagus. He said water infiltration into the Sarcophagus and a gradual softening of the fuel-containing components were potentially dangerous. He believed an explosion could potentially be triggered inside the Sarcophagus, releasing radioactive particles that would pose a danger for plant workers and those in the 30 km zone. The main danger, he said, was a possible release of an estimated 37 t of radioactive dust or the contamination of groundwater by radioactive particles.

However, a statement issued by Energoatom on 2 June said such reports were “absolutely groundless”. It gave assurances that “the radiation situation at Chernobyl and the adjacent area is normal. Radiation is monitored daily.”