Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chernobyl Area Becomes Wildlife Haven

Many assumed the 1986 meltdown of one reactor, and the release of hundreds of tons of radioactive material, would turn much of the 1,100-square-mile evacuated area around Chernobyl into a nuclear dead zone.

It certainly doesn't look like one today.

Dense forests have reclaimed farm fields and apartment house courtyards. Residents, visitors and some biologists report seeing wildlife - including moose and lynx - rarely sighted in the rest of Europe. Birds even nest inside the cracked concrete sarcophagus shielding the shattered remains of the reactor.

Sometimes I get the feeling Chernobyl is the future in microcosm, a ruinous forbidden zone of abandoned technology and encroaching nature, all conspicuously human-less.

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