Chernobyl Wildfire Smoke Moves Towards Belarus, Igniting Radioactivity Worries

Chernobyl Wildfire Smoke Moves Towards Belarus, Igniting Radioactivity Worries
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NASA shared impressive new photos of the Chernobyl wildfire evolution. The images were obtained via Aqua satellite, and they show large columns of smoke migrating to Ukraine’s border with Belarus, which is situated 10 miles (16km) from the former nuclear power plant.

About 68 miles (110km) south of the nuclear plant, there is Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Measurements of radioactivity say that the city wasn’t affected by radiation.
The initial image of the wildfire was seized on April 5 by the Suomi NPP satellite operated by NASA and NOAA.

Since then, 250 acres were subject to fire. Weather conditions influenced the fire evolution. The cause is believed to be natural, although concerns that people might have accidentally caused it is not excluded.

“The problem of setting fires to grass by careless citizens in spring and autumn has long been a very acute problem for us,” stated Egor Firsov, head of Ukraine’s ecological inspection service.

Is the smoke of the Chernobyl wildfires a reason to worry?

Until April 10, the firefighters couldn’t contain the fire. Up to 400 firefighters, more than 100 units of equipment, and helicopters dousing the forest with water are still fighting with it.

After the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986, a 1,000-square-mile zone was evacuated, and since then, it remained an exclusion zone. It was placed under military control. It is commonly known as The Zone, probable as a reference to movie director Andrei Tarkovski’s masterpiece The Stalker.

The Zone is of the world’s most radioactively contaminated areas, with “normal” radioactivity of 0.14 to 2.3. The fire caused an increase in the radiation up to 17 times higher than usual. Officials say that there is no reason for worry, as the rise was only registered in the fire-affected areas.

But what about the smoke traveling outside the Zone? Isn’t it radioactive? At the moment, scientists believe that there’s no reason to panic over the increased radioactivity at Chernobyl.


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