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» » Forest fires heading for Chernobyl nuclear plant – Ukraine Interior Ministry

Forest fires heading for Chernobyl nuclear plant – Ukraine Interior Ministry

Author: Ayre от 29.04.2015, 05:00
(голосов: 1)
RIA Novosti / Alexei Furman

The Ukrainian National Guard has been put on high alert due to worsening forest fires around the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

"The forest fire situation around the Chernobyl power plant has worsened," a statement on Avakov's Facebook page says.

"The forest fire is heading in the direction of Chernobyl's installations. Treetop flames and strong gusts of wind have created a real danger of the fire spreading to an area within 20 kilometers of the power plant. There are about 400 hectares [988 acres] of forests in the endangered area."

Police and National Guard units are on high alert. Ukraine's Prime Minister personally went to the affected area to oversee the firefighting. He says the situation is under control, "but this is the biggest fire since 1992."

Ukrainian emergency services say 182 people and 34 vehicles have been dispatched to fight the fire. Mi-8 helicopters and three An-32 water dropping airplanes are also working at the scene. The efforts are being coordinated from a mobile emergency headquarters.

According to the head of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone management department, radiation levels in the area remain normal. “The area on fire is relatively clean,” Vasily Zolotoverkh told the newspaper kp.ua. He said the fire started at lunchtime, when emergency workers had finished putting out an earlier blaze which started during the night. The emergency services have stated that it could have been caused by a lit cigarette.

Ukraine's acting head of emergency services said earlier the forest fires were not a threat to the sarcophagus sealing off Chernobyl's crippled Reactor 4.

Chernobyl and the surrounding area have been abandoned and remain off-limits following the April 1986 disaster, when an explosion and fire released massive amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Increased radiation levels were detected throughout Europe.

Chernobyl became the worst nuclear disaster in world history in terms of casualties and clean-up costs. Reactor 4, where the blast took place, was sealed off in a giant reinforced concrete sarcophagus to prevent further leaks.

 

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