Russians fear worst as fires reach Chernobyl fallout zone

Thursday, August 12, 2010
By Paul Martin

Scepticism as officials try to play down threat of radioactive residue in smog

By Miriam Elder
IndependentUK
Thursday, 12 August 2010

Radiation levels near Chernobyl could rise and pose long-term health dangers as deadly forest fires spread to land contaminated by the world’s largest nuclear-reactor disaster, Russian environmentalists said yesterday.

Activists said that the effect of the flames, fanned by the hottest weather in the region in 1,000 years, is bound to be serious. “This is radiation that will be dangerous for the local population living near the fires and firefighters managing the fires,” said Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace Russia’s energy unit. “What is not clear is what could be the danger of the combined radiation effect and toxic effect of the smog. No one knows how these effects multiply each other.”

If the weather situation changes, particularly with heavy winds, the toxic smoke could blow westward, he warned. However he added: “Moscow and the EU states are out of the risk zone.”

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