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Chernobyl area fire poses risk to neighboring regions — Polish expert

July 02, 2015, 16:29 UTC+3 WARSAW
It’s very dangerous that everything is happening in the nuclear power plant area, if the fire spreads there, a huge amount of radiation will get into the atmosphere, a Greenpeace expert says
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WARSAW, July 2. /TASS/. Fire near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine poses a danger to the surrounding regions, expert of the Polish branch of Greenpeace Jan Haverkamp told TASS on Thursday.

"We are monitoring the situation. Fortunately, the fire has not yet reached the NPP reactor zone. It’s very dangerous that everything is happening in the nuclear power plant area. If the fire spreads there, a huge amount of radiation will get into the atmosphere," he said. "It’s a risk, but the risk primarily to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, as they are located in close vicinity," Haverkamp said.

According to him, there will be no explosion, similar to the 1986 accident, and Eastern European countries, including Poland, have now nothing to worry about.

"We welcome the efforts of Ukrainian authorities that are doing their utmost to prevent the fire from spreading," the expert said.

Fire in Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone

The fire in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl NPP occurred on June 29. Dry grass and reed caught fire to spread over an area of about 130 hectares. There have been a total of 6 fire seats, 5 in the exclusion zone.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s state nuclear inspectorate identified radiation levels one order of magnitude above the natural background in some spots inside the area affected by fire near the Chernobyl NPP. "In the air sample taken in the area of the fire on the outskirts of the abandoned village of Polesskoye the content of caesium-137 is 0.0025 becquerel per one cubic metre, which is one order of magnitude above the control level set under the current norms of hygiene," the watchdog’s statement said.

"In other words, the data available from the existing systems monitoring the radiation situation in the exclusion zone and adjoining territories indicate the changes in the basic parameters of the radiation situation, except for those in the fire-affected areas, do not exceed the levels acceptable in the given territories. In Kiev, the radiation level is at the level of the natural background," the watchdog said. Caesium-137 is one of the most dangerous radioactive pollutants. It accumulates readily in soil and bottom sediment, as well as in living organisms.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations said on Wednesday night it was prepared to dispatch firefighting planes for helping to put out a major wildfire in the Chernobyl Forest, which is located in so-called ‘exclusion zone’ around the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

"The Emergencies Ministry is prepared to render the assistance that might be necessary in putting out the fire on the territory of the Chernobyl Forest forestry area, including the dispatch of Ilyushin-76TD water bombers that can drop 42 tons of water on the hotbeds of fire at one haul, as well as Beriev-200CS amphibious planes," a ministry spokesman said.

He indicated that the planes could be refuelled on the territory of Russia.

In addition to planes, the ministry was ready to dispatch a group of rescuers and experts and specialized equipment to the zone of the emergency to help Ukrainian counterparts organize the fire-extinguishing efforts. Along with it, the ministry stressed the absence of whatever risks from the fire to residents of Russia’s territories adjoining the border with Ukraine. No increases of radiation levels above the norm have been registered.

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