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15 August, 2007

No haven

Everyone knows that ecological diversity around the Chernobyl nuclear power station has increased drastically since the 1986 disaster, as humans are excluded from a 30 km radius of the surrounding area and low levels of radiation have minimal effects on wildlife.  Everyone knows that.

The orthodox view is that the lack of human activity (farming, ranching, hunting and logging) outweighs the risks of low-level radiation, even that "the world's worst nuclear power plant disaster is not as destructive to wildlife populations as are normal human activities."

That's the narrative imperative; it makes a neat story, so people want to believe it, but according to research reported by the BBC, it's not supported by empirical evidence. The ecological effects have been "considerably greater than previously assumed".

As Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina says:

"We clearly need to be applying scientific method to ecological studies before we can conclude, based on anecdotal observations, that there are no consequences."

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