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Deformity Becomes Normal? Another Look at Radiation from Chernobyl

A study released Wednesday shows that there are far fewer animals living in the area around Chernobyl and that animals living there are much more likely to be deformed.

“Usually (deformed) animals get eaten quickly, as it’s hard to escape if your wings are not the same length. In this case we found a high incidence of deformed animals,” said Anders Moller, a researcher working at Chernobyl since 1991. The study, conducted by the National Center for Scientific Research in France, is the first to scientifically look at how radiation affected local animal populations. The study links radioactive fallout to low numbers of bumble-bees, butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers and other invertebrates. Deformities in local animal populations varied from discoloration to stunted limbs.

The study concluded that animals living near Chernobyl have been far more affected than previously believed by the 1986 Soviet nuclear disaster. “We wanted to ask the question: Are there more or fewer animals in the contaminated areas? Clearly there were fewer,” said Moller. Ukrainian officials have previously asserted that the area is “ecologically sound” and have even moved in wolves and bears as part of an effort to make the area a nature preserve. Additionally, this new research findings may influence government plans to use the Chernobyl site as a source of biofuel and feedstock.


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