Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Wildlife Thriving in Chernobyl's Radioactive Landscape?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Wildlife Thriving in Chernobyl's Radioactive Landscape?

Article excerpt

Thirty years after the worst nuclear accident in history, land once blanketed in radioactive fallout is now home to a stable wildlife population.

A new study on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), the 1,000- square-mile area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Pripyat, Ukraine, found that animals are living normally in the exclusion area despite persistent radiation across the region.

The Chernobyl plant disaster of 1986 occurred when an explosion rocked the Soviet station and released large amounts of radiation across Europe, resulting in thousands of fatalities and widespread contamination. But after millions of dollars spent on recovery, and a total evacuation of humans, wildlife abounds in the protected landscape.

"Information regarding the response of flora and fauna to chronic radiation exposure is important in helping us understand the ecological consequences of past (e.g. Chernobyl and Fukushima) and potential future nuclear accidents," says an article in the current issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Reports of a "vibrant ecosystem in the most radioactive areas" in the CEZ have persisted for years, but the recent study more conclusively presents the scope of the animal presence in the zone and examines the effects severe radiation has on such populations.

"When humans are removed, nature flourishes - even in the wake of the world's worst nuclear accident," said Jim Smith, an environmental scientist at the University of Portsmouth in England, in an October interview with The Christian Science Monitor, following the release of another study pointing to the natural resurgence in the abandoned area.

"It's very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are now much higher than they were before the accident," he said.

The current research, performed by an international team of scientists, conducted a remote camera study in the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, a portion of the CEZ located in Belarus. The scientists set up nearly 100 "scent stations" infused with fatty acid scents, designed to attract animals. Motion-activated infrared remote cameras recorded the activity of animals at the stations, which were distributed at least two miles apart to minimize the risk of the same animals visiting multiple sites during the survey. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.