Chernobyl Irradiated Forests
In April 26, 1986, Reactor #4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded, contaminating an area of more than 200 000 km2 in Europe with above 0.04 MBq of 137Cs/m2 as well as other radioactive particles (IAEA,06). Most contaminated in Ukraine is an area of 260,000 hectares known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) that was contaminated with 90Sr, 137Cs, 154Eu, 238Pu, 239,240Pu, and 241Am. This CEZ was evacuated and cordoned off for limited activities and access. This area is known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). Radioactive contamination was unevenly spread in the CEZ. Dr. Sergiy Zibtsev of National Agriculture University of Ukraine (later changed to National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine) had a Fulbright Fellowship to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (courtesy of Dr. Ann Camp). He visited the devastating fires in the western United States and invited Yale faculty to visit the forests irradiated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
I visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in the summer of 2005, and I had the reaction that Sergiy had expected: “What if a catastrophic fire occurred in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone?” There are a lot of world experts on radiation, but few of them were familiar with catastrophic forest fires; and, there are a lot of forest fire experts, but few are aware of the Chernobyl irradiated forests. Catastrophic forest fires can be averted with appropriate activities. We felt responsible for alerting the appropriate leaders to the impending danger and opportunities for avoiding them.
We gained the strong backing of Rector Melnychuk (“Major Participants”), Rector of the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences (NULES) in Kiev where Sergiy is a faculty member. Johan Goldammer (“Major Participants”) and the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) joined our efforts. The links below describe our efforts and results in greater detail.