Fire near Chernobyl raises radiation level

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In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, another frightening event caught the world’s attention: fires in the vicinity of Chernobyl increased the level of radiation in the air by up to 16 times. The fires took place near the village of Vladimirovka, which is within the exclusion zone of the former nuclear plant, which is currently uninhabited. The fire started on Saturday and, until Monday morning, had not yet been controlled.

The normal level of current radiation in the area is 0.14 µSv / h (microsievert per hour), while the maximum allowed is 0.5 µSv / h. However, at the center of the fires, the measurement reached 2.3 µSv / h. There is no evidence that this radiation has moved towards the capital Kiev and not even Chernobyl, which continues with normal levels of radiation. Another measurement, made on Sunday, readied 0.34 µSv / h, just below the limit.

In all, about 20 hectares were consumed by the flames. More than 120 firefighters, two planes and a helicopter are working to contain the fires. The area is within the 2,500 square kilometer perimeter that was uninhabited after the 1986 nuclear accident. Nowadays, it is taken over by forests, which can generate fires.

However, many fires are caused by people who live close to the region, albeit accidentally. Ukraine’s ecological inspection service imposes tougher laws on anyone caught setting fire to the backyard, as it aggravates fires, especially during autumn and spring.

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