Forest fire that has been burning in Ukraine is now just one kilometre away from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia reportedly said on April 13. The fire which broke out on April 4 in a forested area near the disastrous Chernobyl power plant is now spreading at an alarming rate with new blazes emerging every day. Satellite images that surfaced online on April 13 showed that the fire had spread to 34,400 hectares of land.
According to media reports, a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was established after the April 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe. However, the Ukrainian emergency situations services have said that the radiation levels in the exclusion zone have not changed. The department further said that, however, radiation levels in nearby Keiv, the capital city have "not exceeded natural background levels."
Speaking about the spread of radiations, Rashid Alimav, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia reportedly said that fire, fanned by the high-speed wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiations. He added that a fire approaching a "nuclear or hazardous radiation" facility was always a risk. He further said that they were expecting rain on April 15.
In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant polluted a large part of Europe after its fourth reactor exploded, resulting in the immediate death of two operating staff. Due to absorbing high levels of radiation, 134 emergency service members were hospitalised in days ahead, of which 28 people lost their lives. The 1986 disaster is considered the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen and it is also one of the only two nuclear disasters that have taken place so far, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that rocked Japan in 2011.
(Image credits: AP)