Russia's New Fear: Chernobyl-Tainted Smoke

Wildfires encroach on contaminated regions
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2010 7:19 PM CDT
Russia's New Fear: Chernobyl-Tainted Smoke
Tourists with face masks walk along Red Square in Moscow Monday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Newser) – As Russia continues to battle raging wildfires in 100-degree temperatures, environmentalists are raising a scary cause for concern: radioactive smoke courtesy of Chernobyl. Regions of western Russian remain contaminated with radioactive residue from the nuclear disaster 24 years ago, and now wildfires are threatening those regions, explains the New York Times.

“Fires on these territories will without a doubt lead to an increase in radiation,” says an official with Greenpeace Russia. “The smoke will spread and the radioactive traces will spread. The amount depends upon the force of the wind.” A government official warned last week of radioactive smoke, but today the nation's top sanitary doctor is playing down the danger. “There is no need to sow panic. Everything is fine.” (Read more Chernobyl stories.)

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