Fire also imposes one more stress on Chernobyl’s ecosystems, a decidedly human wrench thrown into their long recovery from nuclear disaster. Induced by climate change and sparked by human activity, fire here is only slightly more natural than radiation. Persistent and widespread fire may destroy soil organics and radically redistribute the accumulated radionuclides, Yoschenko said, altering soil chemistry. Changes in soil chemistry will alter plants, which in turn will affect the food chain and animals dependent on it. And larger, more intense fires could destroy the forests entirely, obliterating their ability to keep what’s in Chernobyl in Chernobyl. “Keeping forests healthy is the main ingredient to preventing the migration of radionuclides outside the zone,” Zibtsev told me.
For now, Chernobyl’s forests and grasslands are continuing to process cesium, strontium, and other radionuclides. Even the roots of the contorted trees in the Red Forest are taking up radionuclides, holding and stabilizing them in an ecosystem’s gift to the humans who created these contaminants. That process promises to continue—at least until the August fire season gets underway.
Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. HBO’s TV version only scratches the surface, she says
Today, scientists are trying to warn us of an existential threat to our health and safety: climate change. Once again, government drags its feet.
If we take anything from Chernobyl, it should be this: put science before politics.
In 2019, we may have grasped the extreme dangers of radiation, but the war on the truth is ongoing — it’s eternal.
One of the challenges that this show highlights is the challenges associated with telling a clear narrative. Although there is no debate about Chernobyl and the disaster that occurred, making sense of the how and why is a bit more difficult. This was highlighted by the fictional scientist who combined the rolls of a number of scientists who go unmentioned.
This fallout was an “invisible enemy”, Sofia said. Although she “neither saw it nor felt it [and] it had no colour and no taste”, it would go on to take the lives of many of those close to her.
People are still suffering the ill effects from eating contaminated food, such as milk and berries.
As of January, of the 2.1 million people registered with Ukraine’s health authorities for treatment for Chernobyl-related illnesses, 350,000 were children.
The biggest concern is that with ageing facilities and lapsed safety standards due to financial pressures, it is feasible for another catastrophe to occur:
“This is why we call them zombie reactors, because on the one hand, we have them running. We use the electricity from them. And from the other hand, we understand that there are safety shortcomings in those reactors that might lead to an accident with the potential major consequences.” Iryana Holovko said.
The episode of Foreign Correspondent can be viewed here:
via ABC Weekend Readspo
Trees and other kinds of vegetation have proven to be remarkably resilient to the intense radiation around the nuclear disaster zone.