Archive for the ‘Pripyat’ Tag

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Anniversary–30 Years On   24 comments

 

“Sirens were sounded at the same moment as the first explosion at the reactor, in the early hours of 26 April 1986.

The meltdown at Chernobyl Nuclear Plant was the worst nuclear disaster in history.”

 

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“Chernobyl is not a historical event in Ukraine but a living reality for an unquantifiable number of people.” –Tom Burridge, Chernobyl

 

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“We honour those who lost their health and require a special attention from the government and society,” he said in a speech in Chernobyl. “It’s with an everlasting pain in our hearts that we remember those who lost their lives to fight nuclear death.” – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

 

 

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“The magnitude of the tragedy could have been immeasurably larger if it were not for the incomparable bravery and self-sacrifice of fire fighters, military personnel, experts and medics who honourably fulfilled their citizen’s duty. Many of them sacrificed themselves to save others.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

Sources:

bbc.co.uk

europe.newsweek.com

Japan Nuclear: Exclusion zone dogs   42 comments

Japan Nuclear: Exclusion zone dogs

12 Months later…

    Image Credit:_Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and SupportJapan Inside The Zone-CheckpointJapan Inside The Zone-Deserted streets and homes

Okuma, Japan ghost town inside the Zone

 

On the first anniversary of the March 11 Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone dogs are dying on the streets of Fukushima’s ghost towns from starvation and hypothermia. Fighting to stay alive in freezing sub-zero temperatures 20-30 pets are now dying on a daily basis. They huddle in ravaged remains of abandoned homes, burying themselves in anything they can find, battling to keep the cold at bay.

Gaunt and starving some are now too weak to move, and can only wait helplessly in desperate hope that rescuers will find them in time.

 

        Radiation WarningN-plant warningRadiation level near Fukushima N-Plant

The fallout from the stricken reactors has turned the 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant into a dangerously radio-active no-man’s wasteland, the new “Land Of Wolves”.

         Ghost towns inside the Japan exclusion zonejapan exclusion zone deserted streetsChernobyl ghost town of Pripyat inside the exclusion zone

The eerie silence is absolute when you stand in the centre of the exclusion zone, chillingly reminiscent of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, of ghost towns such as Pripyat…Come -Walk with Me in the Land of Wolves… There should be people but there are no-one, there should be life and activity but instead there is only a strange silence and the occasional sighting of gaunt livestock roaming the empty streets. Thriving towns that only one year ago were home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time.

One year on, animal carcasses lie spoiling in the exclusion zone. Cows and pigs have starved to death, and there is no-one left to attend to their bones still lying in the pens. Cats and dogs have died from disease their bones bleaching on the empty streets where cows and ostriches roam, and frogs and snakes supply the occasional meal to the lucky few cats who venture between the eerily flashing traffic lights, on the deserted streets of Japan’s nuclear ghost towns.

     (Image Credit:Eiji Kaji/Ymiuri) A feral ostrich,believed to run away near a ostrich farm, is seen at the Tomioka fishing port , no-entry zone near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.  (Image Credit: Arab Times) Evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Traffic lights flashing eerily directing traffic that is no more in Japan's N-ghost towns

Bicycles lie where they have fallen seeming simply forgotten by careless owners. Nearby bus stops stand silent and empty waiting for the next busload of people that will never come. In a deserted shopping centre, rows of cars waiting soundlessly for the return of heavily laden food shoppers…but there is no-one there. Everyone is gone. There is only the mournful whispering of the wind eddying through a small local store its shelf stock scattered across the floor, the consequence of the March 11 earthquake.

         Tsunami damaged electrical store inside the zoneDesolate: An empty shopping street in the town of Namie inside the 20km exclusion zoneEarthquake damaged local store lies deserted in the Zone of Exclusion

Local Japanese groups have been very keen to be involved in helping to rescue the animals but with so muchSurvivors: Volunteers have braved the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to rescue hundreds of pets abandoned after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year confusion surrounding the issue re the safety aspect of handling animals in the radiation hot spots, and the unanswered question of how they should be tested for radio-activity, this has not been an easy task.

With the appropriate cleaning and quarantine period, they should be safe to handle and adopt, according to Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, who has conducted extensive studies on animals exposed to radiation in the Chernobyl region.

The lucky ones-rescued from the zone by Japan animal rescue groups

Tragically, in the meantime the lost animals of the new Japan exclusion zone are “Dying in the Land of Wolves… “

In Futaba town centre; a sign marking the entrance to the main shopping district. It read, "Nuclear power – the bright future of energy."

 

WALK WITH ME IN THE LAND OF WOLVES   32 comments

Belorussian wolf within the Exclusion Zone

CHERNOBYL’S LOST CITY – COME WALK WITH ME IN THE LAND OF WOLVES

(Updated 12 June 2012)

In light of the the current crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor…Choose your future carefully! It is you who has to live in it!

 

  

  

“We walked into a wasteland, grey and desolate. The buildings had deteriorated, windows had been smashed. Trees and weeds had grown over everything. It was a ghost town.” (Pripyat)

 

Abandoned town of Pripyat Pripyat Fairground-most contaminated part of town(Image Credit: TimmSuess.com) A silent abandoned sentinal-Pripyat town-Chernobyl(Image Credit:TimmSuess.com)

(Tim Mousseau – Professor of Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina – describing his first visit to Chernobyl)

Along with Anders Møller, an ornithologist and evolutionary biologist from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, Tim Mousseau has conducted on-site research into the effects of radiation on humans and animals, with highly controversial results.

The basic facts of the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident in the Ukraine — the worst in history are well known. At 1.23am on April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Soviet nuclear power plant exploded, after an electrical test went horribly wrong. The radioactive material released was many times greater than the fallout over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, polluting about 80,000 square miles of land across Europe and spreading radioactive rain as far as north-west Ireland. In the wake of the accident, more than 300,000 people were evacuated and an 800 square mile exclusion zone created around the reactor – “the zone of alienation.”


LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF THE RUINED REACTOR – THE LAND OF WOLVES

Pripyat was built as a town for the Chernobyl power station workers. It was viewed a model town. The apartment blocks were alive with fir trees and rose beds. It was a town of young people and growing families.

25 years on the abandoned town of Pripyat has become a wildlife haven. The Land of Wolves.There have been sightings of wolves, bears, wild boar and moose wandering the deserted streets, and swifts swooping round abandoned office blocks. Likewise sightings of deer and wolves have been reported at Kiev Oblast, situated near the border with Belarus, in the zone of alienation in Northern Ukraine. The only other resident is a solitary guard. Prior to the accident the population had been around 50,000.

 

The site of the Red Forest remains one of the most contaminated radio-active sites in the world today. 

 Exclusion zone sign-outside zoneWalking in the land of WolvesKiev Oblast_Geiger Counter_Dosimeter

Although radiation levels have dropped significantly since 1986, there are still "hot" regions. the most contaminated areas measuring 300 microSieverts per hour on the Geiger counter, the equivalent of 1,200 times normal radiation levels.


VEGETATION

Therefore it is surprising the vegetation in the zone of alienation has flourished. Like a strange nature reserve, flora and fauna, in the absence of human interference have reclaimed the abandoned land. Scientists have found that since 1990, growth flourished and the ecological effect has been positive. Eighty percent of the zone is now forested; before the disaster, it was just 20 percent. A total of 240                Russian Wolves - Chernobyl and PripyatForest City-Pripyat 25 years onChernobyl-Pripyat town-25 years on-forested species of animals have been counted within the exclusion zone, most of which were present only in low numbers before the disaster. Giant catfish swim in radioactive water that surround the six nuclear reactors. Since nobody is going to go fishing, they’ll continue to breed and grow.That one should never eat the mushrooms or berries found there and that some of the clover might have six leaves is however another story.

So, could it be that if wildlife can return so soon, nuclear radiation and power might not be as dangerous as we first thought?

AN ECOSYSTEM IN CRISIS

The first discovery that Professors Møller and Mousseau made was that birds in the fallout zone were suffering increased levels of genetic mutations. The examination of 20,000 Barn Swallows found crippled toes, deformed beaks, malformed tails, irregularly shaped eyes and tumours. Some birds had red plumage where it should have been blue, or blue where it should have been red.

Because of contaminated food supplies, bird species have declined by more than 50 per cent in high-radiation areas. Only a fraction of the Swallows and Great Tits are reproducing, and of those that do lay eggs, only five per cent hatch. Less than a third of birds survive to adulthood. Professors Mousseau and Møller could confirm that these abnormalities were genetic by examining the Swallows’ sperm.

They discovered a connection between antioxidants, radiation and plumage colour: showing birds with the brightest plumage are more likely to die.

Antioxidants in both humans and birds, help counteract the effects of radiation Brightly plumaged birds migrating long distances eg Swallows, produce a lot of free radicals as a by-product of their very high metabolic rate and , resulting in tissue damage ~ Professor Mousseau.

Supplies of antioxidants in their blood and liver offset this.  Large amounts of antioxidants are directed to the female’s eggs, causing the bright yellow yolk.

If their destination is in highly contaminated areas, they find it impossible to replenish energy reserves preventing Swallows from maintaining their bright plumage or re-directing enough antioxidants into their eggs, so few chicks hatch.

It continues down through the food chain. In the areas of highest contamination, fewer butterflies, bumblebees, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spiders are found. "The fact that insects, including pollinators, are sensitive to elevated contaminants has a significant impact on the rest of the ecosystem," ~ Professor Mousseau. There is also another tragedy here. Professor Mousseau has started working with the Hospital for Radiation Biology, in Kiev, on a long-term study of humans who live in the area: more than 11,000 adults and 2,000 children in the Narodichesky region, 50 miles from Chernobyl.What will be the consequences for the children of these children????

The incidence among locals of cancer, birth defects and reduced lifespan is alarmingly high.


Update: 10th June 2012

Re: In discussing the conflicting research findings on whether wildlife really is recovering in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one deadly serious point the optimists who think this land is going to recover from the worst industrial accident in history should take into consideration is:

“While iodine-131 decayed long ago and the strontium and cesium are slowly becoming less potentially lethal, the hot particles of plutonium-241 scattered across the landscape are actually decaying into an even more toxic isotope, americium-241. A more powerful emitter of alpha radiation than plutonium, americium is also more soluble and can easily find its way into the food chain. Americium-241, in turn, decays into neptunium-237, another energetic alpha emitter that has a half-life of more than 2 million years. As of yet, the long-term effect of americium-241 on animals remains largely unknown.” ~ Wired Magazine

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You have walked with me through the Land of Wolves…There will without doubt be many and varied opinions on the use of nuclear energy as a "safe, clean, low-carbon" energy source. But the hard cold fact that remains, seems to be that we cannot live WITH it yet neither can we live WITHOUT IT.

I for one just hope that we too will not be walking in "The Land of Wolves."