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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Wildfires Rage Towards Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Sparking Radiation Fears

Wildfires Chernobyl's nuclear power plant

Raging wildfires are edging towards Chernobyl's nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine sparking fears it could release dangerous radiation into the environment.

Tour operator Yaroslav Emelianenko said one fire had already reached the abandoned town of Pripyat, which housed workers and was served by the plant until 1986 when an infamous nuclear disaster spewed a cloud of radiation throughout much of Europe.

Mr Emelianenko said the fire is only two km from where the most dangerous nuclear waste is stored.

"The situation is critical. The zone is burning," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"Local authorities report that everything is under control, but in fact fire rapidly captures new territories."

The first blaze began on the weekend of April 4 after locals set fire to grass on the edge of the 2600 square-kilometre "exclusion zone", which permits people from living within 30km of the plant.

More than 300 firefighters are battling to control it before it reaches the plant and abandoned equipment used to clean up after the plant's No. 4 reactor blew up on April 26, 1986.

Wildfires Chernobyl's nuclear power plant

Wildfires Chernobyl's nuclear power plant

Their efforts have been hampered by strong winds, which are now blowing towards the country's capital Kiev, 100km south of the exclusion zone.

The winds have prompted radiation fears.

Environmental groups are concerned the fires will release radiation from the ground, be picked up by wind and spread throughout the countryside.

Wildfires Chernobyl's nuclear power plant

However Ukrainian authorities have denied the threat and said levels in Kiev "did not exceed natural background levels".

Wildfires Chernobyl's nuclear power plant

Kateryna Pavlova, acting head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, told the Associated Press that they "cannot say the fire is contained".

"We have been working all night digging firebreaks around the plant to protect it from fire."
The agency plans to waterbomb the fires to control the spread.

[ By 9News ]

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