More than three and a half decades after one of the world’s most egregious manmade disasters took place, some of America’s bravest are heading back to Pripyat, Ukraine to help stave off a possibly catastrophic turn of events.
In 1986 there was likely no larger story than than of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s massive meltdown and subsequent explosion – an event that was not only incredibly deadly on its own accord, but whose horrific aftermath was only made worse by the Soviet Union’s insistence on attempting to coverup the ordeal. Millions upon millions of people were affected by the radioactive nightmare when it occurred, and the nature of the disaster has forced a wade swatch of modern-day Ukraine to be largely abandoned.
Now, within that irradiated area, another potential cataclysm is fomenting, and American firefighters are on the scene hoping to prevent any further damage.
Earlier this year, forest fires in the radiation-contaminated area near the Chernobyl nuclear plant sparked concern about the potential release of contaminants.
The 1,000-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was established after the April 1986 disaster at the plant that sent a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe. The zone is largely unpopulated, although about 200 people have remained despite orders to leave.
In a recent blog post, the U.S. Forest Service explained that Alan Ager, a research forester from the agency’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, had been working on the problem of wildfires in the area contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster.
These wildfires are unfortunately fairly common in the exclusion zone thanks to a tradition in the area in which residents will burn their dry grass in the early parts of the spring season, presumably to make way for new growth.
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