Atlas of areas contaminated as a result of the Chernobyl Disaster
For the first time since the Chernobyl Disaster in 1986 the Ministry for Emergencies has issued an official atlas of districts and oblasts [regions] contaminated through the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It shows not only the areas with radioactive soil (where the caesium content is in excess of the norm), but also the amount of radionuclides in milk. The newspaper “Segodnya” [“Today”] explains that milk particularly absorbs harmful substances, and if its level of radiation is excessive, then this means that other local products are also contaminated.
The atlas is not available for sale, but has been passed by the Ministry to its regional departments which should make it available at their public reception offices to members of the public.
According to the maps, the most contaminated areas, after the Exclusion Zone around the plant in the Kyiv region, are the northern parts of the Volyn, Rivne and Zhytomyr oblasts. It was in their direction that the wind in 1986 carried caesium and strontium from Chernobyl.
The Ministry says that Kyiv was lucky: warm winds common to the city prevented radioactive particles from settling on the capital’s streets.
According to the Head of the Ministry, Volodymyr Shandra the amount of caesium and strontium has decreased by a third over the 23 years since the accident. “The most dangerous substances: plutonium and americium are in the Exclusion Zone. The situation there is virtually unchanged.”
According to doctors from the Sanitary Epidemiological Service [SES], in the regions where the soil is most contaminated (17 districts in the Zhytomyr, Rivne, Kyiv, Vinnytsa, Chernihiv, Volyn and Cherkasy regions), the level of radiation in most wild berries and mushrooms, as well as the meat of wild animals, remains 3-10 times higher than the permissible norm. According to a representative of the Rivne Regional SES, they found virtually no radionuclides in fruit, grain and vegetables (aside from potatoes) which people have grown. He says that this is easy to explain: forest animals feed on wild food with a high level of contamination. Of vegetables potatoes are the only dangerous exception since organic fertilizer is used which has the quality of impeding the breakdown of caesium.
As far as milk is concerned, the Ministry for Emergencies says that the situation has improved. The only place, besides the Exclusion Zone, where the level of caesium in milk is higher than the norm (10 times higher) is the Rokytnyansky District of the Rivne oblast (the last measures were taken in 2005).
In ten other areas in the Zhytomyr, Rivne, Chernihiv, Volyn and Kyiv oblasts, the level of radioactivity of milk fell below the norm from 1992-2004. Yet in 2004 the level of caesium in milk exceeded the norm in three parts of the Volyn oblast: Lyubeshivsky, Kamin-Kashyrsky and Manevytsky.
Residents of the Rokytnyansky District of the Rivne oblast say that they are used to living with radiation. According to a local resident, Lyudmila Kot, during the first years they gave the milk to the pigs, however now they drink it themselves. She says that they have, of course, been warned that the level of radiation is above the norm, and they don’t therefore sell it, but it’s hard for families with children to do without milk. She says that several years ago specialists on deactivating the soil visited, however now they don’t see them. There are villages, she adds, where a lot of people are ill because of radiation.
In April this year Russian environmentalist Alexei Yablokov stated that the results of the Chernobyl Disaster would be felt for another 150 years and that the real impact of the catastrophe was being hushed up. He said that independent experts record the consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster in many regions of the world.