By Claire Bernish
On the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe yet, a new report shows radioactive contamination from the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl in Ukraine still lingers in startlingly large amounts across the border in neighboring Belarus.
In an exclusive report by the Associated Press, fresh milk from a Belarusian dairy farm contained a radioactive isotope, traceable to the Chernobyl disaster, at “levels 10 times higher than the nation’s food safety limits” — thirty years after the accident occurred.
Though the AP turned to a laboratory to test the milk, dairy farmer Nikolai Chubenok called the results “impossible.”
“There is no danger,” Chubenok asserted to AP journalists at his farm, just 28 miles from the site of the 1986 explosion and meltdown. “How can you be afraid of radiation?”
In 1996, ten years after the explosions, meltdown, and raging nuclear fires at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated the disaster had spewed “400 times more radioactive material into the Earth’s atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”
Lichens and mushrooms so thoroughly absorbed this radioactivity, in particular radioactive cesium, that reindeer over 1,000 miles away in Norway — where the meat is eaten — remain unfit for human consumption. Wormwood Forest, near the accident site, stands as an eerie monument of contamination with dead trees turned ginger-colored. Mass evacuations of humans from the areas surrounding Chernobyl naturally led to an explosion in wildlife numbers in species such as boars and wolves. And, as scientists discovered in 2011, birds displayed 5 percent smaller brains than average due to radioactivity lingering in the atmosphere.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016
By Claire Bernish