The smoke from the violent forest fires in the radioactively contaminated area has already reached the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Ukraine has once again massively increased the number of emergency services to combat the fires in the radioactive area around the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A total of 1,400 firefighters extinguished the sources of the fire in the restricted area, as the civil protection service announced on Monday. At the weekend there was talk of more than 700 emergency services.
Fire-fighting helicopters also help with the work. After more than two weeks of fire, there were at least six smoldering fires in the region on Monday.
In the radioactive area, fire protection aisles were pulled using heavy technology. Strong wind made the extinguishing work difficult. In the capital Kiev, about 70 kilometers from the restricted area, light rain reduced the smog.
The international medical organization for the prevention of a nuclear war, IPPNW, warned of downplaying the situation. There are radioactive clouds over Ukraine. “If the weather and wind direction are unfavorable, the rest of Europe and Germany could also be affected by the radioactive clouds,” said IPPNW co-chair Alex Rosen on Monday. Heaps of thinned smoke have already reached other parts of Europe. Fine measurements would have shown an increase in the cesium-137 values. The measured radiation levels are “not a relevant danger for the population”, said Rosen. Parts of the exclusion zone that are significantly more contaminated could also catch fire.
The size of the burned-down area was specified as over 10,000 hectares, the medical organization and the environmental protection organization Greenpeace named 46,000 hectares. In the populated area of Zhytomyr – in the vicinity of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – almost 1,000 firefighters fought against forest fires. Dozens of houses in villages were destroyed and their residents had to be brought to safety.
In previous years there were multiple fires in the uninhabited areas of the exclusion zone. Arson is often assumed to be the cause.
After the explosion of unit four in the then Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, radioactive radiation from the atomic ruins was blocked. It was the biggest nuclear disaster in the civilian use of nuclear power. There were thousands of deaths and injuries. Tens of thousands of people have been forcibly relocated.