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Should the city of Pripyat be saved?:

Scientist heads to Chernobyl to help out

An environmental scientist from the University of Portsmouth will visit the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to help decommission the reactor's cooling ponds.

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 is considered to be the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. A massive release of radioactivity forced the evacuation of huge numbers of people. Today the towns of Chernobyl and nearby Pripyat, once home to 115,000 people, are ghost towns surrounded by a 17-mile exclusion zone. Dr Jim Smith will join a small group of scientists from around the world in Kiev at a meeting chaired by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

They are gathering to present their recommendations to the Ukrainian government on the future of the heavily-contaminated cooling pond of the old Soviet power plant's nuclear reactors. The 22 square kilometre reservoir was heavily contaminated and much of this contamination remains in the reservoir sediment. Scientists at the meeting will discuss potential solutions for the future management of the pond. Dr Smith said: 'It's not a straightforward case of draining the pond and digging out the contaminated sediment. 'This would expose workers to the radiation and raise issues of how to dispose of it at a potentially huge cost. 'And despite the high levels of contamination, the pond is home to a unique aquatic eco-system including 38 species of fish, two of which are on Ukraine's list of rare species. 'It's a very complex situation.' By Sion Donovan Education reporter


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