Authorities on Friday said that the radiation levels have spiked near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster after Russia seized control of the area in its invasion of Ukraine.
Experts at Ukraine's state nuclear agency said the the levels have increased about 20-fold and the change was due to the movement of heavy military equipment in the area lifting radioactive dust into the air.
The biggest spike was recorded close to the damaged reactor. Radiation levels are continuously monitored there — measured as a dose that you would receive per hour in a location.
The former power plant was captured by Russian forces on Thursday after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The still-radioactive site of the 1986 nuclear disaster lies some 100km (62 miles) from Kyiv.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the radiation at the site did not pose any danger to the public.
"The readings reported by the regulator – of up to 9.46 microSieverts per hour – are low and remain within the operational range measured in the Exclusion Zone since it was established," the IAEA said.
Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi added it was of vital importance that the safe and secure operations of the zone's nuclear facilities should not be affected or disrupted in any way.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Friday that the critical infrastructure of the plant has not been damaged and essential maintenance work was ongoing.
Ukraine's neighbour Poland said it had not recorded any increase in radiation levels on its territory.
France-based independent nuclear watchdog CRIIRAD said in a statement Friday it was trying to verify and cross-check the information at their laboratory.
"If the dose rates recorded correspond to real values, the situation is extremely worrying," CRIIRAD said, adding that further research is needed to interpret the data.