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The fire in Chernobyl was controlled

After nearly 10 days of a fire near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, authorities were able to put it out and stop the radiation from spreading.

Chernobyl aerial view.

In recent days, the area near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was being threatened by forest fires. / Photo: Pexels - Wendelin Jacober / Reference Image

LatinamericanPost| Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: El incendio en Chernóbil fue controlado

For days, the Ukrainian authorities were hard-pressed to put out the "open fire" that threatened to reach the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where the worst nuclear disaster in history happened, in 1986.

The risk of the fire reaching this point is that the most dangerous waste from the plant is protected there. And according to tourism organizations and Greenpeace in its Russian branch, the fires reached up to 1.5km away from the plant. According to the environmental organization in dialogue with AFP, the largest fire reached 34,000 hectares and the second reached 12,000 hectares.

In addition to the environmental tragedy that the reactivation of these hazardous wastes would have caused and the health consequences for the nearby inhabitants, it could also have become a strong economic blow. Over the years, this sector has become a focus of tourism that has helped many citizens and companies to grow in a country where tourism is not one of their strengths. According to the BBC, 70,000 tourists visited Chernobyl in 2018, a number that increased in 2019 thanks to the launch of the HBO miniseries on the nuclear disaster.

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The concern increased over the days since the fire had started since about April 4 and had not been controlled yet. In the days before they managed to put it out, the smoke was already reaching the cities, so the authorities asked that the exit from homes be prevented 100 percent since they feared that the radiation would arrive. This, because in the areas surrounding the plant, where there were still no inhabitants, the radiation became 16 times stronger than normal.

Finally, the fire was controlled thanks to 500 officers who were on hand and the heavy rains that helped put it out. There are still small active fires and the smoke remains in a wide dispersion range.

However, the actions of the authorities have been strongly criticized because they assured that the fire was contained when it was not. The government has changed their statements and has had to retract them a few times since the fires started, for which they have been accused of lying and covering up the magnitude of the danger.

Although there is no clarity as to how the fire may have started, it appears that a man had burnt dry grass in the surrounding area without appropriate security measures. Apparently, this person had violated the 30 km radius in which nobody can enter and had started burning less than that distance from the nuclear power plant. According to the Interior Ministry, a suspect, a 27-year-old man, is already being investigated.

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