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The science of nuclear energy
The science of nuclear energy

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3.3.4 Chernobyl today – exclusion zone

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The 30 km exclusion zone around Chernobyl remains predominantly abandoned and much is a wilderness. The nearby Red Forest has encroached on the plant and the nearby town of Pripyat.

The exclusion zone may look lush but the vegetation itself contains high levels of radioactive material. The forest is monitored for wildfires as a large fire in forest would lead to dangerous levels of smoke particles entering the atmosphere.

Further out than Pripyat, there have been some attempts at resettlement into areas evacuated in 1986 due to the fallout from Chernobyl. In 2010, the Belarus government adjusted their policy on Chernobyl, with some regions reclassified with a view to begin the process of returning the region to normal use. They state that for many areas and with minimal restrictions, the annual dose will be between 0.1 and 1 mSv – significantly less than the annual dose from granite to those living in Cornwall.

The task is large as the infrastructure, utilities and new buildings (to replace those that will be demolished) all need to be provided. Much caution is required in the use of local resources such as wood due to lingering high-level of caesium in some places, although in others the level is low and agriculture may be attempted. Cultivated food will be safe to eat although wild fruit will still be restricted.

The images in the video were taken on a tour around the Chernobyl reactor and the town of Pripyat.