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Chernobyl in Europe
Based on a Greenpeace Brazil article:
Fires around Chernobyl Revive Nuclear Nightmare
News – 29 – April – 2015
Forest Fire Threatens Release of Radioactivity Equivalent to the 1986 Historical Accident

A forest fire of great proportions arrived just 20km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The fire began on Sunday (26) – the 29th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in history and threatens to release radioactivity into the environment.

If the fire spread to forests and highly contaminated areas around the plant, the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere is certain. The amount of radioactivity released could reach the same magnitude as a major nuclear accident.

The forests and the soil in the area are full of radioactivity from the 1986 accident, when enormous amounts of radionuclides were deposited on site – including strontium-90, plutonium-239 and cesium-137 (this was responsible for the worst radiological accident in Brazilian history, in 1987, which killed dozens of people and infected thousands).

Based on satellite data, Greenpeace experts estimate that the fire spread over an area of ​​13,300 hectares, of which 4,100 are still on fire. The fires have not yet reached the most contaminated areas around the Chernobyl plant, but are currently 15-20 km from the site.

In an analysis of fire risks around Chernobyl held earlier this year, scientists concluded that the worst case would be the release of radioactivity into the atmosphere, which could be equivalent to a Level 6 of a nuclear accident in the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES ). The Chernobyl accident in 1986 and the Fukushima accident in 2011 were Level 7 events.

The radioactivity enters the atmosphere through the clouds of smoke and is dispersed according to the wind direction, height and other climatic factors. During the previous forest fires, the released radioactivity reached Turkey.

The international community is building a new shelter around the reactor destroyed in 1986, but it is impossible to build a “sarcophagus” over the vast contaminated forests in the area. Even after 29 years, the radiation risks at the Chernobyl region are not under control and could result in greater dispersion of radioactivity over Europe.

As in Ukraine, a large amount of radioactive material was deposited in the forests in Fukushima. Despite the efforts of Japanese authorities to decontaminate the villages and farmland, the forest could not be decontaminated and will remain a stock of radioactivity over a long period of time. And the risk is not only fire, radiation can be spread to other areas due to heavy rains and flooding.

The world and Brazil do not need this dangerous energy source, whose costs are much higher than disclosed. It is high time to abandon this risky energy and invest in the future: solar and wind power. http://www.greenpeace.org/brasil/pt/Noticias/Incendio-ao-redor-de-Chernobyl-revive-pesadelo-nuclear/ Bravo Greenpeace Brazil! Only Greenpeace Brazil and Greenpeace Russia appear to have bothered to cover this story which could finish off much of Belarus, Ukraine, and Europe, which still remain contaminated from the 1986 fallout. Some European forests are radioactive from Chernobyl and burning firewood releases the radiation into the air, albeit to a lesser degree. Also Russia and Turkey are in grave danger. The exclusion zone is a 30 km radius, which means that the radiation is already going whichever way the wind is blowing! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Exclusion_Zone#
13 300 hectares is 32 865 acres, 15 kilometers is 9.3 miles
The reference to an accident level 6 has to be due to burning of forest, peat bogs and fields, because if it were to get to the nuclear reactors, there are four of them, and spent fuel. This would have to be much bigger than Chernobyl, then. They are shut, but apparently not decommissioned. The old melted core has not been removed, either. The graphite in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster burned until May 10th, 2 weeks, and is believed to have burned only half of the graphite. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Nuclear_Power_Plant The USSR was able to send in volunteers and troops to be sacrificed in a way which would not be possible today. Also, they threw many men at the reactor for very short periods of time to minimize exposure of each one. Once again, it wouldn’t happen in a more democratic society these days. Perhaps historically volunteers would do it in democratic societies. Could drones put them out? The UK’s cracked graphite reactors also represent a grave risk. Windscale was but a miniature. Video of fire near Chernobyl:http://youtu.be/5Uzbo4aUYiE

Based on a Greenpeace Russia article:
Photo of the Bryansk region, the area of ​​the Chernobyl fallout plume, March 2015 Greenpeace Russia
(Photo of the Bryansk region, the area of ​​the Chernobyl fallout plume, March 2015)

In the Chernobyl zone 10,000 hectares of forest, peat bogs and fields burned News – April 28, 2015

Cause of the fire is unknown, it may arson, but the results can be called catastrophic.

The fire occurred in the 30-kilometer zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Distance from the nearest point to the fire station (sarcophagus), is only about 15 kilometers.

The fire is burning on the moor eight kilometers west of the city of Pripyat, and can stay there for a long time, throwing out a large amount of smoke.

The wind direction has been blowing the smoke onto the territory of Belarus in the direction of Svetlogorsk, Zhlobin, Bobruisk, Mogilev. If the fire is not rapidly eliminated, a very major disaster with a serious secondary contamination of a vast territory will occur.

According to weather forecasts, in the near future the plume of smoke can turn toward the west, in the direction of Minsk.

Recall that radioactive peatlands exist in Russia, in the Bryansk region. Last year, the burning of peat bogs in a Chernobyl fallout zone gave off smoke, including in Moscow. Greenpeace experts went and found the fire in October of last year. In the spring of this year, the authorities have made the region extinguish the peat bogs that smoldered all winter.
http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/ru/news/2015/28-04-chernobyl/
[Translations based on google translate, with correction.]

This says that the fire is only 5 km from the spent nuclear fuel repository! http://belsat.eu/en/articles/greenpeace-wary-big-eco-disaster-smoke-wildfire-around-chernobyl-npp-moves-belarus/

The 0.81 microsieverts per hour shown on the Geiger converts to 7 mSv per year. There is, on average, a one in 100 chance of getting cancer or leukemia in 14 years at these levels, according to the BEIR report. The number may be higher for children and certain groups. Ingestion would further increase risk. The reading is gamma only and thus excludes alpha and beta emitters. The number would be reduced by over 1/2 compared to what it was originally, as Cesium 137 has been through approximately one half life. The current levels at the reactor site (presumably outside) given by the Ukrainian government are (for the highest) 19.5 microsieverts, which is 171 mSv leading to an almost 2 in 100 chance of getting cancer in one year of exposure. Some readings are less than the 0.81 microsieverts.

Forest fire near Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear zone under control: Prime Minister
Posted:Wed, 29 Apr 2015 11:33:46 GMT
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian fire fighters have contained a large forest fire that threatened to spread toward the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant and radiation levels in the area are normal, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday.
http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/environment/~3/bD8nXVQ6258/story01.htm

Under control doesn’t mean put out.

Int J Radiat Biol. 1997 Jan;71(1):51-9.
Unstable and stable chromosomal aberrations in lymphocytes of people exposed to Chernobyl fallout in Bryansk, Russia. Salomaa S, Sevan’kaev A, Zhloba A, Kumpusalo E, Mäkinen S, Lindholm C, Kumpusalo L, Kolmakow S, Nissinen A.
Abstract
Analyses of unstable and stable chromosomal aberrations in peripheral blood lymphocytes were used in the assessment of radiation exposure of residents of a village situated in the Chernobyl fallout-contamination zone of Bryansk, Russia. Blood samples were taken from subjects residing in villages with high (> 1100 kBq/m2 137 Cs; Mirnyi) and very low (< 37 kBq/m2 137 Cs; Krasnyi Rog) contamination, 7 years after the Chernobyl accident. The groups were matched by age, sex, smoking habits and previous medical radiological exposures. A total of 200 people (100 exposed, 100 controls) were analysed for the presence of unstable aberrations from Giemsa-stained slides. To study stable aberrations, chromosome painting analyses were performed on 100 subjects (50 exposed, 50 controls), using painting probes for chromosomes 1, 2 and 4 and a pancentromeric probe. People living in the contaminated area showed significantly higher rates of unstable chromosome-type aberrations but not chromatid-type aberrations in their lymphocytes, indicating radiation exposure as a causative factor for the observed difference. No significant differences were found in the aberration rates between the two areas by the chromosome painting method. The levels of chromosome exchanges were low in both populations, but consistently higher in Mirnyi compared with the control area. The magnitude of radiation exposure resulting from Chernobyl fallout was estimated on the basis of excess stable chromosomal aberrations in the lymphocytes of the Mirnyi population compared with the controls. PMID: 9020963 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9020963

This should be a wakeup call to shut down the nuclear industry and work to properly contain the old reactors and waste. In 1986 Chernobyl impacted as far away as the UK, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and more. Any nuclear reactor or nuclear waste accident can seriously impact areas 1,000s miles-km away, depending upon wind direction and rain.