Russian wildfires raise Chernobyl radiation fears
Moscow: Russian emergency workers have increased forest patrols in a western region previously contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, trying to prevent wildfires from spreading harmful radiation, officials said Wednesday.
At least six wildfires were spotted in the Bryansk region this week — the part of Russia that suffered the most from the Chernobyl catastrophe in what was then Soviet Ukraine — and fire crews quickly extinguished all of them, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Yegorushkina said. Her agency also had reported sporadic wildfires last week, saying all had been put out.
Radiation experts from Moscow conducted a thorough check of the Bryansk area, which borders Belarus and Ukraine, and concluded there has been no increase in radiation levels, she said.
Large forested areas in Bryansk were contaminated when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant`s Reactor No. 4 exploded during a pre-dawn test on April 26, 1986, spewing radioactive clouds over much of the western Soviet Union and northern Europe.
Radioactive particles settled into the soil, and environmentalists have warned that they could be thrown up into the air once again by wildfires and blown into other areas by the wind.
Russia`s Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu acknowledged the danger last week, and his department says they are taking all precautions.
"We had several fires, but the situation here is not as difficult as in the areas around Moscow," Yegorushkina told a news agency on Wednesday.
The chief of the Bryansk forest protection service said his agency had increased patrols around the forests, particularly in the southwest section affected by Chernobyl.
"There is a danger, but we are controlling the situation," agency Chief Vladimir Rozinkevich said.
Vasily Tuzov, a deputy head of the federal forest protection service, said wildfires engulfed a total of some 9,600 acres (3,900 hectares) in several regions of Russia hit by the Chernobyl fallout, including the Bryansk region, but most of them have been put out.
He said it wasn`t immediately clear whether any of the fires had spread any radioactive particles into previously unpolluted areas.
"Our workers will need to conduct measurements to determine that," Tuzov told the AP. "All we know now is that there have been fires in the areas with higher radiation levels."
Greenpeace and other environmental groups say radioactive dust from the Chernobyl disaster could be harmful even though doses will likely be small.
A top Russian forest expert said that the mixture of radioactive elements that remained in the forest floor in the affected regions remains dangerous.
"A cloud may come up with soot and spread over a huge territory," said Alexander Isayev of the Moscow-based Center for Forest Ecology and Productivity.
In Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had no comment on the radioactive dangers posed by the wildfires.
Hundreds of wildfires sparked by the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia have engulfed large areas around Moscow and other parts of western Russia, cloaking the Russian capital in suffocating smog for a week. The death rate in Moscow has doubled to 700 people a day, morgues are overflowing and residents are desperately seeking ways to counter soaring temperatures and acrid smoke.
About 165,000 workers and 39 firefighting aircraft were battling more than 600 blazes nationwide Wednesday over 220,000 acres (more than 90,000 hectares), the Emergency Ministry said.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- CBSE Board Class 12th Exam Results 2015 declared
- Delhi's 2015 CBSE Class 12 topper M Gayatri talks to Zee Media
- Dawood's intercepted phone calls prove yet again he is in Pakistan
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- No respite from heat for next three days: IMD
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- One year of Modi govt: PM addresses mega rally in Mathura
- DNA: Sikh man in New Zealand removed his turban to help injured kid
- Police registers case after parachute-like objects were spotted over Mumbai airport
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- Growing medical negligence in Delhi's AIIMS
- DNA: AIIMS doctor removes both kidneys of minor, claims she had only one
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic.in Class 12th XII Results 2015: CBSE Board Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 declared
- Check WBBSE (wbresults.nic.in) Class 12th Results: West Bengal Board (wbscvet.org) Higher Secondary Class XII Vocational Results to be declared today at 4 PM
- Two dead, over 100 injured as Muri Express derails in UP; Prabhu announces Rs 2 lakhs ex-gratia for kin of dead
- PM Narendra Modi's Mathura rally: As it happened
- CBSE Class 12 results out: Here's how you can check
- Public rally on 100 days of AAP govt: As it happened
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- Unidentified flying objects spotted over Mumbai airport not motorised: Home Department
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- Militants kill five, target telecoms in Kashmir attacks
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- China doesn't recognise 'illegal' McMahon Line: Beijing responds to NSA Ajit Doval
- CBSE 10th Results 2015 to be declared on May 27
- CBSE Class 12th Board Exam Results 2015: cbseresults.nic.in crashes