A fire has broken out near the decommissioned Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reports. Although any activity in the irradiated “exclusion zone” inspires alarm, authorities describe the situation as “fully under control,” and say radiation levels remain within acceptable limits.
The Chernobyl plant once produced about 10 percent of Ukraine’s electricity. In 1986, one of its four reactors exploded, setting off the worst nuclear accident in history; afterwards, authorities evacuated an area around the plant of 1,000 square miles. Few people live there, and much of the land has been reclaimed by forests and wildlife.
Over 100 firefighters are currently on the scene, aided by “several planes and helicopters dropping water from the sky,” RT writes. According to a Facebook post from Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, also quoted by AFP, “There’s no need to worry.”
This happens sometimes—there was a similar fire last June, and a much larger one in April of 2015. As AFP reports, this particular blaze started in an area of dry grass about six miles from the station.
It eventually spread to cover about 25 acres of woodland in the “Red Forest.” The area is named for the original stand of pine trees, which turned red and died from radiation poisoning in the days after the explosion. That forest was bulldozed, and another was planted in its place, to deal with its own allotment of disaster.
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Kyiv, Chernobyl, and the Borders of Bessarabia
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