Ukraine Raises Concerns on Forest Fires Near Chernobyl Plant

Ukraine’s parliament raised alarms about seven fires that have broken out in the region controlled by Russia’s military surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, escalating concerns about the potential radiation pollution as the Russian military occupies the site.

The fires recorded by European Space Agency satellites were likely “caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, namely the shelling or arson,” and are “burning unchecked, ” Ukraine’s parliament said in a statement on Monday. 

However, the nuclear operator Energoatom said there is currently no data on pollution levels due to the Russian occupation, making it “impossible to adequately respond to threats of deterioration of radiation situations in the Exclusion Zone.” 

Ukraine’s Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strelets also said Tuesday that radiation levels are still reading normal, but, fires within six miles of radioactive waste and contamination present a “particular danger,” the parliament said.

The fighting and Russian troop movements in the region were a concern because the heavy machinery moving through stockpiles of radioactive waste posed a risk of stirring up some of that radiation, as do fires, the parliament added.

The initial explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 had spread radiation across parts of Europe. 

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