In Ukraine, on 24 February 2022, Russian forces invaded and seized the Chornobyl nuclear plant. Despite this tragic event, many questions remain unanswered. Under Russian occupation, what has happened to scientists and their facilities at Chornobyl, as well as the heavily contaminated radioactive environment?
After months of planning, The State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM) granted Greenpeace Germany permission to visit Chornobyl and conduct radiation survey work inside the 2,600km2 contaminated Exclusion Zone.
To try and understand the operations of the Russian military at the Chornobyl site, in April 2022, Greenpeace Germany commissioned McKenzie Intelligence Services (MIS). Former military intelligence specialists to acquire, view and assess high-resolution satellite imagery of the Chornobyl site. The area of interest was studied chronologically using all the images acquired by MIS to develop a timeline of activity. All relevant activity was recorded and analysed to produce an assessment of operations on the ground.
Finally, using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite or VIIRS data from NASA, the date, time, and geographical position of heat sources were identified. This was done to determine the timeline of the fires that occurred in the area. This data was able to plot the precise location of heat sources and was overlaid on European Space Agency Sentinel 2 data to illustrate a geographical timeline of the fires.