26th of April, 1986, Prypiat, Ukraine. At approximately 1:00, the nuclear plant operators announced that a core breach is imminent and began instilling emergency procedures for core shutdown. The failure to do so, led, 23 minutes later to what we consider the most catastrophic nuclear incident in the history of mankind. Still, a flourishing wildlife was found in Chernobyl wasteland.
To recap, the nuclear explosion that engulfed Prypiat and the surrounding area was so massive, that it was classified by the International Nuclear Scale Event Scale as being a level 7 event. Only two such events occurred in recent history, the first one being Chernobyl, followed closely by the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe in 2011.
The outcome of the nuclear explosion was appalling: 100,000 square kilometers were contaminated by radiation, making the area inhospitable for the next 20,000 years. During the accident, almost 31 people lost their lives and many more are affected by the long-time effects of radiation exposure such as thyroid cancer.
But hope is not altogether lost! Recent fauna studies have revealed that wildlife population begun to resettle in the nuclear wasteland of Chernobyl. Being less susceptible to the effects of long-time exposure to radiation, wildlife population seems to be thriving after the evacuation of the area surrounding Prypiat.
During the studies, conducted from 1987 to 1996, helicopter crews that flew over Belarussian section, discovered many tracks in the snow, indicating that there could be mammal activity in the vicinity. What is more stunning is the fact that the total number of wildlife population has significantly increased since the evacuation of the area.
Researchers point out that after the nuclear disaster occurred, the number of elk, deer, wolves and wild boar are living in abundant numbers in the Polesie reserve. This reservation was founded a couple of years after the disaster.
But the disaster took its toll on the animal population as well. As we know, after the nuclear incident all human and domestic animal population were evacuated from the area. Still a couple of animals were left behind. According to the document entitled the International Chernobyl Project technical, a sort of an overview of Chernobyl’ aftermath, horses and cows died slowly due to thyroid complications. Other were stunted or continued to show birth defects. Sheep population was affected as well. Scientist speculate that they could have absorbed large doses of radioactive cesium by ingesting radioactive fungus.
Still we ask ourselves that question: what is more harmful to nature? Radiation or human interference? By analyzing the data collected so far we are inclined to say the latter.