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TULA, September 30. /TASS/. Authorities have recorded high background radiation levels in central Russia’s Tula region, bordering the Moscow region and part of the contaminated area after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
Tula Region Governor Vladimir Gruzdev said a study carried out in more than 1,300 settlements of the so-called "Chernobyl zone" has found that "the level of contamination in 20 settlements is higher than expected."
The Tula region was contaminated to the most extent among the Russian regions following the nuclear disaster. Experts say some 56% of the territory was affected in the region, which is home to more than 640,000 people.
The zone adjacent to the Chernobyl NPP had been hit by peat bog fires during the whole summer. A total of 136 fire outbreaks were recorded on the area of 115 hectares. In June, the blaze approached the NPP and the background radiation level sharply increased.
Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said the fires had been caused by deliberate arson attacks with the use of torches.
Numerous incidents have been recently reported from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Thus, according to media reports, Ukrainians illegally sell dry wood from this zone and numerous fires in the exclusion zone this summer were meant to conceal large-scale felling of trees.
The Chernobyl exclusion zone covers northern territories of the Kiev region’s Ivankovsky district, with the towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat, and northern areas of the Polessky district. These territories were heavily contaminated after the 1986 accident and have been banned from entry ever since.