Ukraine and Belarus started cross-border cooperation in the field of extinguishing forest fires

Within the framework of the OSCE project aimed at increasing the radiological and ecological safety of the Exclusion Zone, in particular, during natural disasters, in Gomel (Belarus), joint Belarusian-Ukrainian inter-departmental command-and-staff training on forest fire extinguishing took place in Gomel, Republic of Belarus. In the process of training, specialists worked out a variety of scenarios for the interaction of all government bodies, services and profile enterprises of Ukraine and Belarus, involved in the suppression of transboundary fires in the Exclusion Zone.

«Forest fires in the Exclusion Zone are a major danger because of the risk of radionuclides emitted into the atmosphere. Combining the efforts of the two countries to overcome the fires in this territory is an important step towards increasing the fire safety of the Exclusion Zone and ecological safety of the countries as a whole. We must be ready to eliminate fires of any size», – Mykhailo Baitala, acting head of the department for ensuring the barrier function of the Exclusion Zone, the natural reserve fund, radiation safety, labor protection and civil defense of SAUEZM.

During the exercises, representatives of Ukraine and Belarus worked out scenarios of varying complexity and response lines provided by independent experts. Much attention was paid to the issues of information exchange between countries and the need to simplify the procedure of crossing the state borders by rescuers in the event of fires that pose a danger to both countries.

The training took place in a format that allows you to work out step-by-step proposed ways of interaction, without going beyond the legislation of both countries. Thus, specialists during the exercises were able to identify the difficulties in organizing the process of interaction and to consider in advance the resolution of possible issues at the local and state levels.
In the future, experts consider the possibility of practical testing of scenarios developed during the process.

For reference:
The training «Transborder Cooperation for Reducing the Risk of Natural Fires in the Exclusion Zone» was held within the framework of the OSCE Project «Enhancing Radiological and Environmental awareness in the areas affected by the Chornobyl accident in Belarus and Ukraine, focusing on the management of natural disasters», funded by the governments of Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria.

Participants of the Ukrainian side in the training included representatives of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management, the State Emergency Service, the SSE «Pivnichna Pushcha», the SSE «Ecocentre», the Chornobyl Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve, the National Police, the State Border Guard Service, the State Fiscal Service, Kyiv Region State Administration, Ivankiv and Polissia District State Administrations. From the Belarusian side – representatives of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Gomel regional department for emergency situations, Polissia State Radiation and Ecological Reserve, Administration of Resettlement and Exclusion Zones, Profile Departments of Gomel Region Executive Committee, Gomel State Production Forestry Association, Gomel Customs, Gomel and Mozyr Border Group, Gomel Regional Center of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health, the branch «Gomeloblhydromet, State Scientific Institution «Institute of Forest», Republican Research Unitary Enterprise «Institute of Radiology».

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