Forest fires that ravaged the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine last year ended up introducing unwelcome new changes to the layout of irradiated areas within, according to local media outlet Ukrinform.
Valentin Shcherbina, head of the Professional Association of Ecologists of Ukraine, reportedly explained that each new fire in the exclusion zone essentially creates a "new map of contamination", as radioactive particles spread to previously untainted areas.
He also claimed that due to the last year’s fires, radioactive particles weren’t just thrown into the atmosphere, but were also introduced into the ground and water, entering the "geochemical cycle" and "migrating, conducting the secondary radioactive contamination".
"And so the previously existing maps of tourist routes in the exclusion zone, for example, became outdated," he remarked.
Shcherbina pointed out that, in the first years following the Chernobyl disaster, a vast number of pine trees were planted in the area in order to accumulate and contain radioactive particles from the ground and groundwater.
Now, however, the existing forest ecosystems do not fulfil their primary "barrier function", he alleged.
Over 27,000 acres of forests near the Chernobyl exclusion zone were destroyed by huge wildfires in 2020, resulting in a spike of radiation in the area.