ON THIS DAY in 1986, workers ran a safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. But the test went awry, starting a fire in a reactor and leading to one of the largest nuclear disasters in history. Smoke from the fire and a second explosion launched radioactive elements into the atmosphere, scattering them over the surrounding fields and towns. Now, 35 years later, scientists are still uncovering the extent of the damage and starting to answer questions about the long-term legacy of radiation exposure on power plant workers, the people in the nearby community, and even their family members born years later.
In two papers published Thursday in Science, an international team of researchers took on two very different but important questions. The first paper tracked the effects of radiation on the children of people who were exposed and found that there were no transgenerational mutations that were passed down from those parents. The second focused on thyroid cancer caused by radiation exposure and examined how radiation acts on DNA to cause the growth of cancerous tumors.
Thrill seekers visiting the ruins of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine may soon be able to take a piece of the site’s radioactive history home with them — in their livers.
A team of scientists from the U.K. and Ukraine have just produced the first bottle of what they’re calling Atomik vodka: artisanal spirits made from water and grain harvested in the reactor’s once-forbidden exclusion zone.
“With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started,” he said, “But they never end.”
Posted in News and Views
Tagged cesium, chernobyl, core meltdown, Fukushima power plant, Japan nuclear crisis, nuclear crisis, nuclear energy, nuclear industry, plutonium, strontium, technology
If you’re wondering why trace amounts of radiation has been found in Washington state, check out these photos. The most trashed reactor, No. 3, above, is actually in reasonable shape while the one that looks the most undamaged, No. 2, has probably already melted down.
Draw your own conclusions about the safety of nuclear power.