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Chernobyl nuclear power plant seen from above on March 10 in Ukraine. (Maxar Technologies/Getty Imag

Russian forces looted and destroyed a laboratory near the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant that was used to monitor radioactive waste, according to the Ukrainian government.

The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster fell to the Russians in the first week of the Russian invasion, raising fears that safety standards inside the exclusion zone could be compromised.

According to a Ukrainian government agency, the lab was part of a European Union-funded attempt to improve radioactive waste management through on-site analysis of waste samples as well as packaging used to dispose of the waste.

The government agency also reported that samples of radionuclides – unstable atoms that can emit high levels of radiation – had been removed from the lab. He said he hoped Russia would use the samples to “harm itself, not the civilized world.”

This is the latest scare to emerge from the infamous Ukrainian site which sits near the border with Belarus.

More information about Chernobyl: Staff working there on the day he was captured in late February only recently had the chance to return home, three weeks after having to rotate with an incoming team.

Local Slavutych Mayor Yuriy Fomichev spoke to CNN after the workers were confined to the factory for 10 days, describing them as “exhausted, both mentally and emotionally, but mostly physically”.

Fomichev said more than 100 people were shift staff who should have been relieved after 12 p.m.

Earlier this month, the site was forced to be powered by emergency diesel generators for several days before being reconnected to the national power grid after damaged lines were repaired.

And on Tuesday, the Ukrainian government also warned of several fires near the factory, which it said were likely started by Russian artillery or arson.

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