by Jonathan Crow, Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2014/05/the-animals-of-chernobyl.html
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and
filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and
other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.
On April 26, 1986, the number 4 reactor at the Chernobyl
nuclear power plant blew up in what is now the Ukraine.
The site spewed a
cloud of radioactive material that spread over much of Europe. The area
immediately around Chernobyl received more than 400 times the radiation
as Hiroshima and won’t be safely inhabitable for about 20,000 years.
government set up a 1,000 square mile exclusion zone
around the site. While short visits to the zone are possible without
too much danger, living there is not advisable. Cancer is a real problem
for the couple hundred elderly stalwarts who still make the zone their
Within the zone, nature has taken its own course, dismantling the
Soviet-era brutalist tenements of the surrounding abandoned cities and
turning it into what at first blush looks more and more like a
prelapsarian Eden. The truth proves to be more complicated.
Dr. Timothy Mousseau,
a biologist from the University of South Carolina, has been examining
the wildlife around Chernobyl for fifteen years. He’s discovered that
the radiation that has been bathing the area for almost 30 years is
As you can see in the New York Times Op-Doc video above,
birds are developing tumors, bugs have abnormal spots and spider webs
seem much more free-form than usual. Get more on the story over at the Times.