By Fredrica Syren:
I remember it as if it were yesterday — the Chernobyl accident. The accident the world still talks about…30 years later. I was a child in Sweden when suddenly all the adults were talking about the nuclear power plant in Pripyat. On April 26, 1986, Ukraine had become the site of the world’s largest nuclear accident, and radiation spread all over Europe. Sweden was affected as well. People were evacuated from Chernobyl, those from the town of Pripyat never to return. It has been a ghost town ever since and is now known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. That disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties. It also affected the environment: plants, trees and forests died; and wildlife within 30 km of the site died or stopped reproducing. Today, 30 years later, there still is radiation in the region although uneven in some areas. Trees, plants, water and soil do still contain radiation, and this level of radiation contamination is problematic because radiation virtually never dies and will be found for a very long time.
Quite frankly, I believed that it would remain dead and empty of any life forever, as many others did, I assume. Because of so much contamination by something so toxic and dangerous to everything alive, there was no reason to believe otherwise.
Since 2010 the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) has been an ongoing environmental recovery area, with a huge effort to remediate and re-enclose the reactor site. Environmental advocates have recommended making the less contaminated portions of the site permanently off limits to allow for wildlife recovery and to create a habitat reserve.
And nature found a way and healed.
A camera study, which is also the very first remote-camera scent-station survey conducted within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, shows that wildlife populations are abundant at the site. The study was done by researchers from the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Actually, this study was made to back up a 2015 study showing that populations were thriving in the CEZ by counting animal tracks. The researchers actually found 14 species of mammals on the camera footage, including the gray wolf, wild or Eurasian boar, red fox and raccoon dog. All of this wildlife was found within the most contaminated areas.