The Risk of Fires in Radiation-Contaminated Areas

An exciting article has recently emerged from the Institute of Public Administration in the Sphere of Civil Protection, Kiev, Ukraine titled, ‘Risk of Forest Fires in Radiation Contaminated Areas: A critical Review‘ (available for download, below). A friend, Dr Heather Price, was cited in the article. She is a professor at North Seattle College and a prominent Climate Activist.

Based on extensive research work with the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), the article reviews events as well as existing models of the potential for contamination spread.

It states,

“During forest fires in radioactively contaminated areas, radioactive combustion products and toxic gases enter the atmosphere, since all organic materials in contaminated areas contain radioactive material. Cesium-137 is one of the most dangerous radionuclides emitted after nuclear accidents because of its long half-life, the type of radiation it emits during decay and its bioaccumulation by organisms (Evangeliou et al., 2015; Woodhead, 1973).

“The concentration of combustion products depends on the surface heat flux emitted by the fire, the prevailing wind and precipitation regime, especially in the summer months from July to August, when the existing fire hazard is higher and, as a rule, significantly exceeds the maximum permissible values. Toxic gases that are released into the air pose a potential danger both for the local population and for employees of fire and rescue units who are directly involved in extinguishing fires (Evangeliou et al., 2015; Azarov et al., 2015a).”

That should make any scientist or citizen sit up and take notice. An event occurred in the Tri-Cities, WA worth remembering in which the Hanford Reach National Monument soon after its designation suffered an horrendous grass fire that destroyed much of the sage and brush, and sent heavy metals into the atmosphere close to the blaze. Personally, I remember playing Ultimate frisbee with our local team at Columbia Point in Richland, looking up and seeing this plume of dark smoke rising up from Hanford. At this point, we broke up our practice, and I headed home to Kennewick, WA. When I pulled into my local grocery store, the smoke was so thick, it shrouded parked cars. Later, it was reported in the local news that the levels of measurable plutonium metal had temporarily surged by upto 1000% in North Richland following the blaze, as there was still detectable amounts in the soil, flora, and fauna of the Hanford reservation. (This recollection is from my memory and that of others. I also remember that the detectable plutonium did not travel very far as it is a heavy metal.)

With the rise of human-controlled global warming, we have witnessed on the West Coast more and greater incident forest and grass fires with combusted organic pollutants within the smoke plumes. In fact, families of Millennials now talk about a “Fire Season” in Oregon and California for which they prepare with HEPA filters and air purifying systems.

Enough said for now, here is the Ukrainian article for your study…

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