Forest fires heading for Chernobyl nuclear plant; expert warns of re-release of radiation into atmosphere

From RT
April 28, 2015

Video 2:52: http://img.rt.com/files/news/3d/fc/90/00/kosarev2300.mp4?event=download

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.”

However, in comments to Russia’s Moscow Speaks radio, a representative of Greenpeace Russia said that the situation is much worse: “A very large, catastrophic forest fire is taking place in a 30-km zone around the Chernobyl power plant. We estimate the real area of the fire to be 10,000 hectares; this is based on satellite images. This hasn’t been officially acknowledged yet.”

The potential danger in this fire comes from the radioactive contaminants the burning plants have absorbed, ecologist Christopher Busby told RT. “Some of the materials that were contaminating that area would have been incorporated into the woods. In other words, they land on the ground in 1986 and they get absorbed into the trees and all the biosphere. And when it burns, they just become re-suspended. It’s like Chernobyl all over again. All of that material that fell on the ground will now be burned up into the air and will become available for people to breathe.” Christopher Busby is the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks.

Ecologist Dmitry Shevchenko from the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus says it is difficult to predict where exactly the contaminants will go: “We don’t have a real-time monitoring system for the Chernobyl area. We can hypothesize whether the radionuclides will go here or there, but there is no-one who can reliably predict the situation.”

Ukrainian emergency services say 182 people and 34 vehicles have been dispatched to fight the fire. A Mi-8 helicopter 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.

http://rt.com/news/253897-chernobyl-fires-rage-ukraine/

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Documents reveal radiation spike at world’s fifth largest nuclear plant; report says radiation levels measured at 16 times gov’t limit after leak (VIDEO)

From ENE News, January 3, 2015
http://enenews.com/tv-documents-reveal-radiation-leak-europes-largest-nuclear-plant-reuters-officials-could-comment-documents-authentic-claims-spike-radiation-days-exceeding-permitted-norms-16-times-video

Reuters, Dec 30, 2014: Ukraine denies radioactive leak on Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant — Ukrainian authorities denied on Tuesday a report in pro-Kremlin media… Life News newswire published documents which it said came from Ukraine’s emergencies ministry and showed that a leak at the power plant had led to a spike in radiation over the past two days exceeding permitted norms by 16 times… “there have been no accidents,” said an energy ministry official. The officials could not comment if documents published by Life News were authentic. Reuters was not able to verify the documents…

TeleSUR (TV network funded by Argentina, Bolivia, etc), Dec 30, 2014: Alleged Radioactive Leak at Biggest Nuclear Plant in Europe — Ukrainian authorities deny any increase radioactive levels… Reuters [has not] been able so far to independently verify the documents [which] stated that the radiation levels had significantly raised – over 16 times the permitted limit – one day after the incident… Another unit had also been switched off [at the] end November after a short circuit, leading to an intervention from the [IAEA]. Ukrainian authorities waited five days to disclose the information…

PressTV, Dec 31, 2014: A new report reveals that radiation from Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant has exceeded the norm by 16 times. According to a leaked document by Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations, Ukrainian nuclear scientists misinformed the public and the media about the real state of affairs.

PressTV, Dec 31, 2014: Radioactive leak alleged at Ukraine nuclear plant… amid an official denial. The leak at Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Power Plant was reported Tuesday by Russia-based LifeNews… a 24-hour television channel and news website.

Life News, Dec 30, 2014 (Google Translation): State Service for Emergency Situations… Dec 28… radiation background 4.90 mSv/yr… 16.3 times higher than the acceptable norm… Dec 29… 5.05 mSv/yr. Continue reading