Radioactive contamination on rise as wildfires break out near Chornobyl NPP after Russian shelling

27 March, 03:55 PM
NASA and ESA satellite imagery helps capture large fires (Photo:mepr.gov.ua)

NASA and ESA satellite imagery helps capture large fires (Photo:mepr.gov.ua)

Radioactive contamination levels are on the rise in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, the territory around the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, as 31 wildfires have been recorded on a total area of 10,111 hectares after shelling by invading Russian forces.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine reported the rise in radiationlevels on March 26.

"There is an increase in the level of radioactive air pollution as a result of hostilities and arson of the exclusion zone's forests by the Russians," the ministry said.

"Now satellite data shows 31 large fires in natural ecosystems and abandoned villages of the exclusion zone, making up a total area of more than 10,111 hectares."

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The agency said wildfires in the exclusion zone could pose high radiological risks.

Prior to the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the radiation level in the area was monitored by the zone’s automated radiation monitoring system at 39 points. Containing and extinguishing the wildfires is currently are impossible due to area being controlled by Russian troops.

"Satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) help us locate large wildfires," the report says.

However, the ministry does not exclude the existence of a significant number of ignition sources.

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