A spike in radiation levels was reported by Ukrainian authorities on Sunday in the restricted zone around Chernobyl. The increase in radiation is reportedly caused by a forest fire in the area. Chernobyl is notorious for being the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.
“There is bad news — radiation is above normal in the fire’s centre,” head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service Yegor Firsov, said on Facebook. A video which was showing a Geiger counter indicating radiation at 16 times above normal was also included in the Facebook post. Firsov added that the fire has spread to an area of about 100 hectares or 250 acres of forest.
Two planes, a helicopter and around 100 firefighters have been mobilized to fight the blaze which broke out on Saturday and has already spread over the forested area of 20 hectares near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. According to a statement issued by emergency service, the fire was not visibly burning on Sunday morning and no increase in radiation in the air had been detected.
However, the service said that increased radiation in some areas had led to “difficulties” in fighting the fire while stressing that people living nearby were not in danger. Chernobyl nuclear powerplant polluted a large area of Europe with toxic radiation when one of its four reactors exploded in April 1986. The area immediately around the power plant was the worst affected. People are not allowed to live within 30 kilometres (18 miles) of the power station.
The three other reactors at Chernobyl continued to generate electricity until the power station finally closed in 2000. A giant protective dome was put in place over the fourth reactor in 2016.
Fires are apparently common in the forests near the unused power plant.
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