By now you must be aware of the forest fires that have been burning in the Northern region of Ukraine. Reports are making rounds that these fires are now not less than a few kilometers away from the abandoned Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.
In fact, Yaroslav Emelianenko, who is the tour operator, has indicated that one of the fires have reached the city of Pripyat, which was the home of the plant. In addition to this, he also said that the fires are inching towards the plant aggressively. This is also the area where the most dangerous waste has been stored.
Apparently, the fire is just 2km away from the plant!
Greenpeace has accepted that the fire is much bigger and wilder than the authorities had initially anticipated. The NGO Russia Branch says that the “the largest fire covered 34,000 hectares, while a second fire just a kilometer from the former plant was 12,000 hectares in area.”
Source: The New York Times
If you thought COVID-19 is an economic disaster, wait till you hear what Mr Emelianenko has to say. He warns that if the fire manages to engulf Pripyat, we’re going to witness an unimaginable economic disaster. This is because many supervised tourists visit Pripyat and that revenue will end.
Just to give you an idea, in March 2018, 70,000 people visited the town as it holds sentimental as well as historical significance. And the figures grew exponentially last year when HBO delivered an impeccable series about the events that transpired here decades ago – the atomic bomb explosion.
How did the fire break out? Well, if police are to be believed, it is being said that the fire arose after a man set fire to the dry grass in the exclusion area. The fire’s been spreading since the weekend of April 4th. Failure to stop the fire has resulted in another problem… it has begun to edge closer to the nuclear plant.
Right now, more than 300 firefighters are working together to stop the fire. They’ve been supported by special hardware to make it easy for them to work on the site. Meanwhile, six helicopters and planes are furiously attempting to extinguish the fire from the top.
After thorough investigation, officials have addressed that the radiation in the area is at a normal level.
“We cannot say the fire is contained. We have been working all night, digging firebreaks around the plant to protect it from fire.” – says Kateryna Pavlova, acting head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, while talking to the Associated Press News Agency.
On 5th April, Yegor Firsov, acting head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service, posted on Facebook and said that the radiation in the area has heightened substantially above the normal.
However, the government officials rejected the claim and called it a mere assumption. They further confirmed that the radiation is “within normal limits.” After this, Mr Firsov withdrew his earlier statement.
Latest news claim that the smoke from the fire is heading towards Kyiv.
Chernobyl nuclear power station and the nearby town of Pripyat have been abandoned since the nuclear power plant blew up. As per the official reports, its 4th reactor had gone off in 1986. As a result, the radiation all over Europe had risen and the area surrounding the plant suffered the most. Even till today, people are prohibited from living within 18 miles of the power plant.
Chernobyl continued generating power until the year 2000 as that is when the last operation reactor finally shut down.