Arguably the most damaging man-made disaster in history would be the blast at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in what was part of the Soviet Union 30-years-ago. Now under the authority of the Ukraine government, the area surrounding the site continues to reap devastation on all of nature. During the disaster, radioactive materials were thrown into the atmosphere and settled on a massive area of land. This land is at the center of ongoing problems stemming from the Chernobyl explosion that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
A recently released report from Greenpeace states that radioactive isotopes are still being found in the plant life that grows within a 125-mile area surrounding Chernobyl. Some of the damaging materials are discovered to have levels 16 times higher than permissible limits. One major worry to researchers is the nuclear isotope caesium-137, because it is absorbed into plants with a little obstruction, and also the requirement of hundreds of years to properly dissolve to a point to where it is no longer detrimental to humans.
The seriousness of the cesium-137 issue can be found in the extremely high levels of exposure detected in foods raised or grown near Chernobyl in the last few years. Products such as milk, berries, meat, and mushrooms were discovered with concentrated levels of cesium–137 far above the limits for children, and still much too dangerous for adults. Increased exposure to the isotope increases the risk of developing cancer. This fact has brought to the forefront the need to provide imported food to the people living around the former nuclear power plant.
Although there is much work still to be done to clean the damaging effects of the Chernobyl explosion, work to minimize future disasters such as this have shown to pay dividends. Many safety procedures have been put into place at nuclear sites worldwide as preventative measures to minimize the effects of a nuclear disaster, if one were to occur.
These precautions have shown effective in the world’s second most catastrophic nuclear disaster– the Fukushima incident in Japan caused by a tsunami in 2011. Due to a worldwide emergency nuclear response, coupled with good fortunes from Mother Nature, the Fukushima incident released only one-tenth of the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Although many claims have been made on both sides of the Pacific as to the cancer affects caused by the disaster, no scientific proof has been brought forward to state that any cancerous developments have been found that are a direct cause from Fukushima.