NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 20

Dispatches International

CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE

Double Danger

The largest wildfire in decades burned through the
exclusion zone around the abandoned Chernobyl
plant, raising radiation levels. By Angelo Verzoni

A

S UKRAINE, LIKE THE rest of the
world, was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in April, the Eastern
European country had to also contend
with another potential health hazard:
elevated radiation levels triggered by
a wildfire burning near the shuttered
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
The plant exploded in 1986, leading
to the worst known nuclear disaster in

history. Today, the abandoned plant is
surrounded by an exclusion zone covering about 1,000 square miles, where
public access is restricted and no one
is allowed to live.
The exclusion zone frequently
experiences wildfires, but the one
that burned from April 4-14 was the
largest the area has seen in decades,
according to news reports. The

Ukraine Exclusion Zone Management
Agency said that by April 11, the fire
had torched over 8,600 acres and
prompted the response of about 400
firefighters, 100 fire engines, and several helicopters, according to the New
York Times. Aided by rain, firefighters
were able to get the blaze under control April 14, but not before radiation
levels at one point spiked to 16 times
above normal on the fireground. The
fire also came alarmingly close to the
abandoned Chernobyl plant itself, at
one point reportedly burning about a
mile away from the site.
"It was a unique and scary fire in
terms of firefighters potentially being
exposed to radioactive ash," said
Lucian Deaton, a program manager

THIS PAGE AND OPPOSITE: GETT Y IMAGES

RADIATION SPIKE
A Ukrainian government official holds up a Geiger counter showing radiation
levels at about two and a half times the normal atmospheric amount as wildfires
raged near the site of the abandoned Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April.

20 | NFPA JOURNAL * M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 0

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover2
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 2
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 5
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 6
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 7
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 8
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 10
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 14
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 16
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 17
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 20
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 21
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 104
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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