From: Bruce Sterling <>
Subject: Viridian Note 00166: Chernobyl Wildlife Park
To: Viridian List <>

Key concepts
involuntary parks, Chernobyl, exclusion zones, energy disasters, wildlife, International Radioecology Laboratory

Attention Conservation Notice: Some particularly detailed reportage on the green fate of a nuclear catastrophe area.

(((The concept of "Viridian involuntary parks" has been explored in Notes 00023, 00057, and 00128. An "involuntary park" is best described as an area of the planet which has returned to savagery due to breakdowns in technological instrumentalism. Some good examples are the Korean demilitarized zone, the Green Line in Cyprus, certain especially toxic waste sites, and various military sacrifice zones that are rife with unexploded ammunition. Then there is the premier example of Chernobyl (or, as it is spelled by its Ukrainian inheritors, "Chornobyl"). Chernobyl is still a working power plant. Its last reactor will be shut down on December 15, 02000, thanks to a $78 million fee from the USA. In July 02000 in Berlin, donors from 40 countries are expected to scare up $700 million to rebuild the concrete "sarcophagus" around the carcass of the exploded reactor.)))

Source: The Independent newspaper, UK, June 6, 02000

Links: 06/postchernoyl060600.shtml International Radioecology Laboratory link at University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory:

"Nature thrives in Chernobyl, scene of the world's most devastating nuclear accident"

      By Steve Connor, Science Editor

"Chernobyl, the scene of the world's worst nuclear accident, has defied the gloomiest of prophesies by becoming one of Europe's richest wildlife habitats, teeming with endangered species.

      "The evacuation of tens of thousands of residents living in the 30km exclusion zone around the Ukrainian reactor has resulted in a flourishing community of plants and animals whose diversity has stunned biologists.

      "Radioactive fallout from the explosion and fire contaminated 2,800sq km of Ukraine and Belarus, which resulted in the evacuation of 135,000 people and 35,000 cattle and left dozens of towns and villages deserted.

      "Although the exclusion zone has been subjected to some of the worst radioactive contamination in history, life in all its forms has proved to be remarkably resistant to the known biological effects of radiation, notably mutations and birth deformities.

      "Scientists studying the site from the International Radioecology Laboratory just outside the zone have reported a startling return of many rare species to the area and a general increase in the diversity of many wild plants and animals. (...)

      "Large European mammals, such as moose, wild boar, roe and red deer, beavers, wolves, badgers, otters and lynx have become well established within the zone, while species associated with man == such as rats, house mice, sparrows and pigeons - have declined. Michail Bondarkov, the director of the laboratory, said that 48 endangered species listed in the international Red Book of protected animals and plants are now thriving in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

      "Of the 270 species of birds in the area, 180 species are breeding == the rest being migrants that are passing through. Breeding birds include the rare green crane, black stork, white-tailed sea eagle and fish hawk.

      "Freshwater fish, such as carp, pike, roach and perch, are also thriving, Dr Bondarkov said. The scientists have even recorded a rich community of aquatic wildlife living in one of the contaminated cooling ponds at the Chernobyl site.

      "Asked if there was any evidence that wild animals had suffered long-term declines since the accident or whether the scientists had detected any increase in birth defects, Dr Bondarkov replied: 'Such evidence does not exist.' (...)

      "Jim Smith, a radioecologist from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorchester, who is monitoring Chernobyl contamination in British sheep, said the latest findings on the exclusion zone were surprising and had demonstrated how important the site has become for understanding ecology.

      "'We've not really made any hard decisions about what to do with the exclusion zone. I don't think people will live there for decades. I'd like to see something positive done with it, possibly by creating a permanent wildlife reserve,' Dr Smith said.

      "'It is a unique area and we don't really have anywhere like it in western Europe. It would be good to see it protected.'"

University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory press release

      "The joint project between Ukrainian and U.S. scientists is an outgrowth of research directed by Dr. Ron Chesser, a senior research scientist and genetics professor at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) in Aiken.(...)

      "Chesser has studied the effects of the Chernobyl accident on wildlife since 1992. Chesser says, 'The unfortunate accident at Chernobyl has created one of the world's most unique and vital experimental regions. We have involved nationally and internationally renowned scientists to evaluate the environmental and genetic impacts of the Chernobyl accident. Researchers from the University of Georgia, Texas Tech University, Oklahoma State University, Illinois State Museum, Texas A&M, and Colorado State as well as Ukraine and Russia have been actively involved in our research programs there. (...)

      "'Hopefully, our work can dispel many myths associated with life in radioactive environments. When most people think of Chernobyl, they envision a nuclear desert with two-headed frogs, giant worms, and creatures like Godzilla wandering about. We see none of that. There are no monsters. The Chernobyl zone is actually a very beautiful place with thriving wildlife communities. Without a Geiger-counter, you wouldn't know you were in a highly contaminated place. Thus far, our genetic studies have shown very few long-lasting impacts due to the high radiation. Most of the effects, however, are very subtle and require precise and intensive methods to uncover. While some effects are obvious, such as large tracts of dead pine trees, and over one hundred abandoned villages and towns, the legacy of environmental radiation, such as that released by Chernobyl, is definitely not a nuclear desert."

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