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KIEV, July 9. /TASS/. A wildfire raging in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear plant for the ninth day in a row poses a threat of radiation spread to big distances, a Ukrainian expert said on Thursday.
"The fire in the exclusion zone is highly dangerous, especially in the current weather conditions. High air temperatures instigates further blaze," Tatiana Timochko, the head of the Ukrainian Environmental League, told GolosUA.
In her words, ground fire burns upper layers of soil, which accumulate radionuclides. "This ash later is blown by the wind to long distances, which poses a danger of radiation spread over big territories, since this ash later falls out on plants, soils, waters," she said, adding that the Chernobyl fire might harm ecology and human health both in adjacent and distant areas.
"Naturally, radionuclide concentrations in areas far from the epicenter may not exceed natural background levels. But in adjacent area, it is a real danger. People may eat contaminated products," Timochko said.
Fires broke out in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl on June 29 when dry grass and reeds blazed over some 130 hectares. Peat is still smouldering on an area of 5.2 hectares.
A dry and hot weather has set in around the Chernobyl exclusion zone, with air temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Weather forecasts say such weather will stay in the area at least till Saturday.
Ukraine’s state nuclear regulation authority said radiation levels in some fire zones had considerably exceeded the background levels on July 1.