NERIS webinar on Chernobyl Wildfires held 28th May 2020

Presentations and webinar recording now available

In April 2020, wildfires were reported in the exclusion zone around the damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor. The fires reached the red forest, one of the most contaminated natural environments, and came as close as two kilometers from the sarcophagi covering the damaged reactor. These are not the first wildfires after the 1986 accident and radiation scientists  have recognized the potential to return radioactive material into the air, especially cesium-137 and strontium-90. This poses an obvious and immediate health risk to fire fighters, but smoke plumes may also transport this re-suspended radioactive material over long distances, resulting in redistribution of the historic fall-out from the accident.

At the local and regional scale, people are concerned about the potential radiological impact too.  Several institutes have made assessments of the situation to answer these concerns, with a combination of satellite imagery and local observations of the fires’ location and intensity, radionuclide detection and models of atmospheric dispersion and transport of particles. Methods developed for the management of earlier nuclear and radiological emergencies were used and new tools, like source inversion techniques, were tested. A number of institutes have issued general statements as well as detailed reports on the Chernobyl wildfires, available to the public on websites and social media.  

This webinar discussed the analyses carried out by different institutes, including their rationales, methods, results, communication to the general public as well as collaboration among them.
Several speakers briefly present the ituation from their perspective. In the second half, participants’ questions were addressed by the speakers and a moderated discussion held.


  • Valery Kashparov – Ukrainian Institute for Agricultural Research, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences (UIAR) - Ukraine
  • Dmitry Bazyka – National Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev,  the WHO Collaborating Center for Radiation and Health - Ukraine
  • Wolfgang Raskob – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) – Germany
  • Jasper Tomas – National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) – The Netherlands
  • Olivier Saunier – Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) – France
  • Astrid Liland – Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear safety Authority (DSA) – Norway
  • Johan Camps – Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN) - Belgium
  • Nick Beresford – UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology –United Kingdom

Final Comments: Thierry Schneider – CEPN and Chair of NERIS – France
Discussion Chair: Lindis Skipperud – NMBU/CERAD – Norway
Chat Moderators: Yevgeniya Tomkiv and Deborah Oughton – NMBU/CERAD – Norway