Research has found that the fires in contaminated areas can send radioactive elements into smoke plumes, that then travel long distances. After the latest fires broke out on April 4, Ukraine’s environmental inspection service found levels of radioactivity 16 times above normal in the atmospheric fumes. However, tests carried out this week around Kyiv and in Belarus have reportedly found no abnormally high levels.
The forest fire is burning in part of Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone since the beginning of April.
Ukrainian officials reported a spike in radiation levels due to the fire.
Part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where the infamous power plant explosion occurred in 1986 is now engulfed in flames.
Ground-based radiation has been disturbed in the area and has gone airborne.
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The region is largely unpopulated, although some 200 people have remained living there since the 1986 nuclear accident.
In 1986 a reactor explosion sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe in what is still the world’s worst-ever nuclear accident.
Around the capital Kyiv, authorities have also been alerted to scores of fires that broke out in peat bogs and grasslands.
So far, no-one has been hurt.
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Winds from the Chernobyl fires have been blowing smoke in the upper atmosphere.
The northernly blowing winds have caused the smoke to drift towards the border with Belarus.
The NASA Earth Observatory is tracking the huge cloud of smoke that is thought to contain radioactive material.
Radioactive smoke has now spread towards the capital to the south.
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The fires have been monitored since April 9, by observers at the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
The wildfires in the Chernobyl region have been of growing concern to scientists.
It’s thought that in recent years they have become more intense, because forests and grasslands have recovered.
The recovery is due to the decrease in human activity in the region that has allowed the natural world to thrive.
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