Chernobyl: the nuclear Pleistocene revival theory Part 1 of 2
On 26 April 1986, Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded after tests were done on the reactor improperly and the operators lost control.
Chernobyl city was evacuated soon after the disaster. The base of operations for the administration and monitoring of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was moved from Pripyat to Chernobyl. Chernobyl currently contains offices for the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management and accommodations for visitors. Apartment blocks have been repurposed as accommodations for employees of the State Agency. The length of time that workers may spend within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is restricted by regulations that have been implemented to limit exposure to radiation.
The city has become overgrown and many types of animals live there. In fact, according to census information that was collected over an extended period of time, it is estimated that more mammals live there now than before the disaster.
In 2003, the United Nations Development Programme launched a project, called the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (CRDP), for the recovery of the affected areas. The program, initiated in February 2002, based its activities on the Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident report recommendations. The main goal of the CRDP's activities is supporting the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to mitigate the long-term social, economic, and ecological consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. CRDP works in the four areas of Ukraine that have been most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident: Kiev Oblast, Zhytomyrska Oblast, partially Kiev, Chernihivska Oblast, and Rivne Oblast.
The theory itself :
As of now, it is 32 years on from the disaster and nature has thrived and adjusted in an area that will not by proper nuclear regulatory testing be inhabitable by humans for at least another 20,000 years.
Then why is it that nature is having no problem taking the area back with an astonishing and resounding result?
Having a very diverse ecosystem that is compromised of packs of wolves and feral dogs at the top eating smaller mammals.
The Barn swallow bird population has had birth defects, pigmentation defects as well as living much shorter lives.
The wild boar population which subsists of the truffle mushrooms which has been contaminated with radiation and have been picked up as far away as 700 kilometers in Germany.
These are the most notable examples of radiological damage in an otherwise pristine rehabilitation of the natural biosphere in the area.
The food chain : ( a summary.)
As seen in the food web, the food chains in Chernobyl were not too affected by the nuclear disaster. The only change that would have occurred is the addition of stray animals, left behind by the evacuated citizens, the cattle left behind by farmers and the large amount of radioactivity that each organism contains. Some animals would also be doing much better without human intervention because animals like boars are hunted for their meat, so without the hunters, the population of the boars would be much higher.
Cesium-137 is an especially dangerous fission product because of its high yield during fission, moderate half-life, high-energy decay pathway, and chemical reactivity. Because of these properties, cesium-137 is a major contributor to the total radiation released during nuclear accidents (cited wikipedia.)
After the accident, the deposition of radioactive iodine contaminated agricultural plants, grazing animals, and thus the milk produced in parts of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and some other parts of Europe. This direct deposition on plants was of most concern during the first two months after the accident since radioactive iodine decays quickly.
After this early phase of deposition, an increasingly important concern was plant contamination through absorption of radioactive materials, such as caesium and strontium, from the soil through their roots.
During the first few years after the accident, the levels of radioactive materials in agricultural plants and animals decreased quickly because of factors such as weathering and decay. In the past decade, the radioactivity levels have still gone down, but much more slowly.
Today, the levels of caesium-137 in agricultural food products from Chernobyl-affected areas are generally below national and international action levels.
However, problems persist in some rural areas of the former Soviet Union with small private farms where dairy cows are grazing in pastures that are neither plowed nor fertilized. In addition, the milk produced in some parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine may still have high levels of caesium-137.
For decades to come, most of the radioactive materials that people take in through food and drink in the affected areas will be caesium-137 present in milk, meat, and crops.
Why say all this ?:
If nature is resilient enough to recover from all this in 3 decades and still have a semblance of some sort of natural symbiosis in the mix.
This truly proves the scale of damage that humans do and that even something as dangerous as high dose radiation can be recovered from.
Now seeing the natural progress in various areas after the last glacial epoch of the Pleistocene when put side by side with something like this and removing differing factors such as the lack of megafauna and human invasion as well as the obvious radiological consideration.
30 years without a significant human presence and massive carbon footprint to say a recovering radiological disaster area and Pripyat is far more pristine than many areas that are being actively conserved.
This speaks volumes to the damages we are doing to the planet and what can happen if even the slightest discipline is enacted and enforced.
Part one was to set the scene and in part 2 I will dive into my theory deeper and compare all considerations to show the true damage we are doing to the planet.