A fire broke out on Monday around the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. It is the second fire this year to hit close to the contaminated area.
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was destroyed by fire and explosion in 1986 when the reactor exploded and sent radioactive material into the atmosphere.
It is not clear if the heavily contaminated areas around the disaster zone are affected. The authorities have said the fire swept through an area of half a square mile or 130 hectares. Chernobyl was the worst nuclear disaster in history, and should the fire hit the contaminated areas, it will release the radiation on the ground back into the atmosphere.
The Belfast Telegraph reports:
Russian news agency Tass quoted Ukrainian official Yuri Antipov, who is in charge of the exclusion zone, as saying the fire started on Monday evening and was brought under control by late morning on Tuesday.
A 20-mile zone around the plant is off-limits to most people except for workers constructing a new shelter to cover the destroyed reactor’s building, and to visitors on short trips.
The explosion and fire in 1986 left some sections of the zone heavily contaminated, while other parts were less damaged.
Radiation levels in the area have not changed, according to Victoria Ruban, a Kiev representative of the Ukrainian State Service.
This is the second fire in the off-limits zone in three months. A forest fire in April swept through 400 hectares and was described as the first blaze in the area in more than two decades.
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