“Minor increases in radiation” — IAEA
Editor’s note: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the UN’s nuclear reactor agency, and was established to promote the nuclear power industry. IAEA’s purpose, announced in its charter, says it “shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy… throughout the world” and to “encourage…atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world.” Often identified as a “watchdog agency,” IAEA is a fully captured arm of the nuclear power lobby. IAEA’s announcements routinely understate, or minimize the extent and the dangerousness of radiation releases, as well as the risks of radiation exposures.
Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2020
Dangerously increased levels of radiation in breathable radioactive particles lofted and windblown by April wildfires in and around the Chernobyl reactor disaster exclusion zone—which was permanently contaminated in April 1986 by one of the world’s worst radiation catastrophes—–were reported April 13 by Kiev officials.
The BBC and Reuters reported April 13 that acting head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service, Yegor Firsov, said in an April 5 Facebook post that radiation levels in the area had risen substantially above normal.
“There is bad news. In the center of the fire, radiation is above normal,” Firsov said, posting a video of a Geiger counter. “As you can see in the video, the readings of the device are 2.3, when the norm is 0.14. But this is only within the area of the fire outbreak,” the UPI reported April 6. The reading was more than 16 times normal.
However, “Government officials later rejected this finding, and said the levels in the area were ‘within normal limits,’” and “Mr Firsov also withdrew his remarks,” the BBC said.
In short order Ukrainian government agencies and the IAEA went to work assuring the public that the radiation-tainted forest fire smoke was not a danger to people in Ukraine.
In an April 24 press release the IAEA said, “The burning of meadows, pastures and stubble has resulted in some minor increases in radiation due to the release of radionuclides transferred from soil contaminated in the 1986 accident. But the concentration of radioactive materials in the air remained below Ukraine’s radiation safety norms and posed no public health concern, the SNRIU said,” referring to the Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine.
“These fires happen almost every year”
Radio Free Europe reported April 26 that “Ukrainian officials have attributed smoky air in Kiev in recent days to fires in the nearby Zhytomyr region, assuring residents that radiation levels in the Ukrainian capital are within an acceptable range.”
“Background radiation in [Kiev] is ‘stable’ and does ‘not exceed the permissible values,’ [Ukraine’s] State Emergency Service said on April 26,” the 34th anniversary of the catastrophic explosions and fires caused by Chernobyl’s reactor 4, Radio Free Europe said.
Greenpeace Russia reported April 23 that “plumes of smoke caused smog in [Kiev], 250 kilometers away and although they did not exceed norms, higher levels of radioactivity than usual were detected.”
NBC News reported April 18 that Volodymyr Demchuk, director of the Emergency Response Department, said in a video statement, “The radioactive background in Kiev and the Kiev region is within normal limits.”
Official assurances of “normal limits”, and “permissible” or “acceptable” levels of radiation exposure studiously avoid saying that exposure to or inhaling radiation is “safe.” Further, the IAEA and the Ukrainian authorities neglect any mention of particular isotopes in the air, what sorts of radiation was being emitted, where the radioactive particles might settle, the length of time the particles persist in the environment, and the risks posed by radioactive “daughter” elements left for decades by the radioactive decay process.
“Forest fires in contaminated areas are a big problem for Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia where five million people still live in contaminated areas according to official data. These fires happen almost every year,” reported Greenpeace Russia’s nuclear campaigner Rashid Alimov.