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Air over North America unaffected by Chernobyl radiation

By LINDA WERFELMAN

WASHINGTON, May 1, 1986 (UPI) -- Government air monitoring networks in North America have measured no increase in radioactivity since the Soviet nuclear disaster as fallout disperses throughout northern Europe, officials said Thursday.

In its two-page report on the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant near Kiev in the Soviet Ukraine, a task force named by President Reagan said U.S. experts are unable to confirm Soviet statements the fire has been smothered at the Unit 4 reactor.

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''From our information, it is not clear whether the fire is out or not,'' the report said.

But the chairman of the task force said late Thursday that reports the fire had been extinquished were ''plausible.''

''Our experts say that is plausible,'' said Lee Thomas, the task force chairman, at a news briefing.

The task force said it cannot confirm reports of damage to a second reactor, noting only that the second hot spot visible in satellite photographs of the area is not a reactor.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which Tuesday began taking daily samples of air at monitoring stations in every state, reported ''no increase in radioactivity above normal background levels.''

The Canadian air monitoring network reported similar results.

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''Portions of radioactivity off the northwest Norwegian coast yesterday morning should continue to disperse with possible movement toward the east in the next several days,'' the task force forecast.

''Other portions of the radioactive air mass may move eastward through the Soviet Union and through polar regions over the coming week,'' the document added.

U.S. officials have no data on radiation levels, contamination or casualties in the Soviet Union, the task force said.

Despite a State Department travel advisory recommending against travel to Kiev and nearby areas, the task force said the department is not advising against travel to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe or Scandinavia, where high levels of radioactivity were first reported last weekend.

''We are largely dependent on the Soviets for information on conditions within the USSR, and we are doing everything possible to obtain relevant information from Soviet authorities,'' the task force report said.

''Americans planning travel to the Soviet Union and adjacent countries should carefully monitor press reports on this rapidly changing situation to make as fully informed a decision as possible with respect to their travel plans,'' the report added. ''They should bear in mind that many of these countries have reported increased levels of radiation in the environment.''

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