Published On: Sun, Apr 15th, 2018

'It's too late to leave!' Apocalyptic blaze surrounding nuclear reactor sets off emergency

More than 500 Australia firefighters are struggling to tackle a massive bushfire, with several residents urged to seek shelters as evacuation is now “too late”.

Scenes of the blaze, which started yesterday, have been described as “apocalyptic” after the fire ripped through nearly 2,500 hectares of land close to the suburbs of Sydney.

Firefighters failed to stop the out-of-control blaze from burning through a major military base – and a nuclear reactor is the next at-risk location.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) said it was concerned that flying embers could spark even more blazes.

The unseasonably hot Autumn in south-eastern Australia has been blamed for worsening the bushfire after record temperatures for April. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the country: “It is unseasonably hot and that’s a matter of obviously great concern, but we have to deal with the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us and the worse Australians are presented with by nature, the better it brings out the Australian spirit.”

Shane Fitzsimmons, of the RFS, warned that strong 60km per hour winds are expected to push towards residential homes.

He said that the country’s largest army barracks at Holsworthy, where stockpiles of fuel, ammunition and explosive materials are kept, had been hit by the fire. 

Locals have been told to “implement their bushfire survival plan” after the fire “jumped” the emergency service’s “last line of defence”. 

As the bushfire continues to grow, safety measures have been put in place at the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.

A spokesman for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation said the reactor had been closed tomorrow in response to the threat.

He added: “The OPAL reactor is protected by numerous fire safety systems, policies, plans and arrangements to ensure there is never any risk to operations or safety

“The OPAL reactor is at power and operating normally. We will continue to take the advice of emergency services throughout the evening.”

The region’s officials refused to comment on the threat to the nuclear reactor.

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