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Threats persist from Chernobyl and Fukusima, Greenpeace reports

MOSCOW, March 9 Ц The forest areas around Ukraine's Chernobyl and Japan's Fukusima remain sources of radiation and carry a potential threat to the health of local residents, Greenpeace said.

The environmental organization carried out a number of studies and tests in Russia, Ukraine and Japan, resulting in a report dedicated to the current radiation situation on the scenes of the Chernobyl and Fukusima accidents.

The radiation pollution continues to have a negative impact on the environment and people's health in the areas, Greenpeace said in the report published on its website.

The studies done by the organization's experts indicated that more than 10,000 square meters of land remain unfit for any economic activity, and approximately five million people live in contaminated areas, now that 30 years have gone by after the Chernobyl accident occurred.

Levels of the strontium-90 contamination have decreased twofold in the thirty years. The cesium-137 concentration levels in agricultural products fell by 50%, but this isotope is still found in mushrooms, berries, and meat in contaminated areas. Again, the plants included in the local cows' diet absorb radio-nuclides. Regular consumption of milk containing this substance may cause the development of dangerous conditions.

Greenpeace said that once resumed, the programs of scientific monitoring could reduce radiation impact on Chernobyl residents, provided that the programs are funded consistently. Greenpeace also believes that the harvesting of wood and collection of mushrooms must be abolished in the areas with the highest pollution levels.

The situation has not been stabilized in Fukusima either, since the 2011 accident, at the Japanese nuclear power plant, according to Greenpeace. Despite the fact that the radioactive contamination in the entire region has been reduced since then, it will decline at a more moderate pace in the future because of the long-lived cesium-137, the Greenpeace report suggests. Approximately nine million cubic meters of nuclear waste are still stored in sacks in storage facilities in the Fukusima prefecture. Many of the sacks are either damaged, or in the process of decomposing. Authorities have yet to decide on where exactly the waste will be buried.

The regions affected by the Chernobyl and Fukusima accidents have seen an increase in thyroid cancer among children, as well as leukemia and cases of cataracts. The number of invalids has grown among local residents.

Following the results of the study, Greenpeace is calling on authorities to secure the due levels of help for the victims of the two nuclear accidents, and continue implementing and enhancing measures to protect the population from nuclear waste.

Greenpeace also said that authorities in those countries where it is planned to keep nuclear reactors must work out plans on protection of residents in case of a nuclear accident comparable to Fukusima or Chernobyl, with regard to radioactive emissions levels. (om/ez)



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