Forest fires that have given authorities a hard time for a week now in Ukraine are pushing up radiation levels near the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The initial fire was allegedly started on 27 April by a 27-year-old man inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The fire has spread and now covers an area of about 100 hectares, according to images shared by NASA.
Earlier this week, radiation levels in the affected area reached 16 times their usual level. While the average is around 0.14 microsieverts per hour, the measurements observed a few days ago indicated instead 2.3 microsieverts per hour.
Fortunately, the phenomenon seems to be limited to the region affected by this fire. In Kiev and the city of Chernobyl, radiation levels have not increased yet.
The explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986 made an area of 30 kilometers uninhabitable. To date, the soil is still contaminated there.