Chernobyl Disaster- Resilience 30 Years Later
The Chernobyl disaster in April 1986 is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. A considerable amount of radioactive contamination was released into the air for about nine days after the reactor core was ruptured. The explosion killed two of the staff, and 134 others were hospitalized with acute radiation syndrome. In the months and years that followed, others died due to radiation-induced cancer. The Chernobyl nuclear plant was located near the Pripyat River, which fed into one of the largest surface water systems in Europe. There was great concern these systems would be contaminated. High concentrations of radioactivity were found in fish for the first few years after the accident. The surrounding pine forest turned reddish brown and died. Some animals died or stopped reproducing. Thyroid glands were destroyed or stunted in horses and cattle. Animals were born with missing or extra limbs, heads or ribs. Agricultural land and produce was also compromised.
In this MYD Global episode we speak with Professor Jim Smith, from the School of Environmental, Geographical and Geological Sciences, University of Portsmouth about where things stand today in Chernobyl, when it comes to recovery. Jim is an expert in radioactive pollution of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, having worked on this area since 1990. He has coordinated four multi-national projects on the environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident and works regularly in the Chernobyl 30-km Exclusion Zone. He’s also the lead author of: Chernobyl: Catastrophe and Consequences, authored an opinion piece in Nature in the wake of the Fukushima accident, a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Expert Group on the Chernobyl Cooling Pond, and has advised Fukushima Prefecture on the consequences of the 2011 accident. His work along with other colleagues on the effects of wildlife at Chernobyl received worldwide media attention with their findings that wildlife is abundant in the abandoned areas around Chernobyl.
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