Thursday, May 8, 2014

28 Years Later

It's the things we can't see that scare us the most.

Chernobyl.  Actually, Pripyat (Chernobyl was a power plant, Pripyat was the city the workers lived in.) A city in the Ukraine, now abandoned except for some elderly who insist on living there.   Photos taken in the abandoned city show a rotting landscape of rusting buildings, overgrown yards with broken swing sets, weathered dolls, and even abandoned amusement rides.

You can even tour the area and, believe it or not, I have some interest in doing that.

To my generation, it's hard to believe that some 28 years have passed since we first found out about a nuclear accident in the then Soviet Union.  On April 26, 1986, life changed for thousands and thousands of people in the Ukraine and in Europe, including, possibly, a former tennis star from the Ukraine who passed away earlier this week at the age of 30 from liver cancer.

Since then, scientists have been studying wildlife in what some call the Zone of Exclusion and others the Zone of Alienation, where radiation levels are too high for humans to safely live there - although some people do.

It's even more amazing to me that some people only know Chernobyl from a game called Call of Duty 4.

Last night, I saw a post on my Facebook fall from Mental Floss, linking to a New York Times article about a scientist from the University of South Carolina studying life in the Zone of Exclusion.  His subjects of study include mushrooms, insects, spiders, birds, mice, voles, and bats.

His findings include insects with strange versions of their normal spots, spiders with warped webs, birds with deformed beaks. But they also include certain animals seeming to be adapting to the high radiation levels in ways that include the increased production of antioxidents.

Some animals even seem to be doing better in zones of higher radiation than in zones of lesser radiation.

Now, this scientist is also starting to study the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.
I wonder what scientific finds will be made at Chernobyl (and Fukushima) by the time my son is an old man, and what he will live to see.

Do you live near a nuclear power plant?

3 comments:

  1. This is very sobering! I've wondered about the long-term ramifications of the nuclear power leak in Japan years ago. Scary stuff.

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  2. Not a happy read, Alana, no offence. It is a sober read. I have a friend who blames her cancer and her husband's as well to Chernobyl. They were in Europe on right after the accident. She lost a leg and her husband died.

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  3. Stopping by from the Facebook UBC group. Wow, I had lost track of how long it has been since that Chernobyl disaster - and that some only know about it from a game? That's sad. It is fascinating about the plant, animal, bird, and insect findings, though, how they have adapted to the toxic environment. So sad for all the people affected by the accident.

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