Kiev, April 14 (IANS) A wildfire that has been raging for several days in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine was now just a few kilometres from the abandoned nuclear plant, according to reports.
Hundreds of firefighters were battling the forest fire while officials insisted there was no risk to the ruined reactor and nearby nuclear waste storage facilities, the metro nespaper reported on Tuesday.
While forest fires are common in the exclusion zone, Greenpeace Russia said this blaze, which broke out 10 days ago, is the worst since the 1986 nuclear explosion.
The campaigners said satellite images showed the fire at its closest point was just 1.5 km from the protective dome over the ruined reactor.
Sergiy Zibtsev, head of the Regional Eastern European Fire Monitoring Center, said the fire wa ‘super-huge’ and ‘unpredictable’.
“In the west of the exclusion zone it has already covered 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) by our calculations,” the newspaper quoted Zibstev as saying.
But the Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said there was no danger for the nuclear waste storage facilities.
Volodymyr Demchuk, a senior official from Ukraine’s emergency service, said firefighters are now focused on stopping the spread.
Ukraine has mobilised helicopters and more than 400 firefighters, with planes dropping tonnes of water on the fire, the Metro newspaper reported.
Chernobyl polluted a large swathe of Europe when its fourth reactor exploded in April 1986.
People are not allowed to live within 30 km of the power station.
The three other reactors at Chernobyl continued to generate electricity until the power station finally closed in 2000.
A giant protective dome was put in place over the fourth reactor in 2016.