Hundreds Still Live In The 'Exclusion Zone' Around Chernobyl
Saturday February 16, 2019. 04:34 PM , from Slashdot
This weekend the BBC reports on the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion -- where 'robotic cranes are dismantling 33-year-old, radioactive wreckage' -- investigating an area of more than 4,000 square kilometres [2,485 square miles] that's been abandoned since 1986. 'That could be about to change...'
An anonymous reader summarizes their report:
'Every community within a 30km radius [18.9 miles] of the plant was evacuated and abandoned; no one was allowed to return here to live.' Yet the BBC visits a tiny community of 15 who reclaimed their homes in 1986 -- part of a population of 200 'self-settlers' deep in the exclusion zone, 'an ageing population cut off from the rest of the country.... Almost every family forced to leave here was given an apartment in a nearby town or city. For Maria and her [88-year-old] mother, though, this cottage, with the garden wrapped around it, was home. They refused to abandon it. 'We weren't allowed to come back, but I followed my mum.''
Parts of the exclusion zone in Ukraine and Belarus have become 'a post-human nature reserve', home to prowling wolves and dozens of wild horses. Yet Professor Jim Smith from the UK's University of Portsmouth explains that 'Most of the area of the exclusion zone gives rise to lower radiation dose rates than many areas of natural radioactivity worldwide.' In fact, the abandoned nuclear-worker city of Pripyat was recently deemed safe to visit for short periods, 'and has now become one of Ukraine's most talked about tourist attractions. An estimated 60,000 people visited the exclusion zone last year, keen to witness the dramatic decay.'
And beyond the 18.9-mile line is Narodichi, a town of more than 2,500 people, where people 'were quietly allowed to return home a few months after the disaster.' Still considered an officially contaminated district -- and still in the 'exclusion zone' -- it's a semi-abandoned area where all agriculture is banned, and the land can't be developed. 130 children attend Narodichi's kindergarten, but the kindergarten manager says half their parents are unemployed, 'because there is nowhere to work.' One of the least-contaminated areas in the exclusion zone, 'Three decades of research have concluded that much of it is safe - for food to be grown and for the land to be developed.' The BBC argues that 'Fear of radiation could actually be hurting the people...far more than the radiation itself. '
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