chernobyl

The radioactive legacy of Chernobyl shows no sign of abating, according to recent reports.

Wild boars in Sweden have been tested and found to have unusually high levels of radiation, 31 years after the disaster.

Ulf Frykman, who works for the environmental consultancy Calluna, this week issued an alert to local hunters in the country of Gävle, about 100 miles north of Stockholm, warning them of “extremely high” radiation levels among local boar.

He has tested boars in Tärnsjö, a village between the cities of Uppsala and Gävle, with a radiation level of 16,000 becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg).

Of the 30 samples of boar his team have tested this year, only six have been below the safe limit of 1,500 Bq/kg.

He told reporters: “This is the highest level we’ve ever measured”.

It has also been reported that as the soil in some areas north of Tärnsjö are more than twice as contaminated, radiation levels among boar are only expected to rise.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 caused a cloud of radioactive particles to move from what is now Ukraine to settle over Sweden. When it rained, the area around Gavle bore the brunt of the radioactive pollution.

The disaster was caused by a faulty reactor and released radioactive iodine and caesium-137 into the atmosphere for 10 days. This is 400 times more radioactive material than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

Soon after the accident, deer around Gavle in Sweden had radiation levels of 50,000 Bq/kg.

What makes the situation even worse is that the feeding habits of the boars could expose them to even higher levels of radiation – comparable to that seen just after the Chernobyl disaster.

Ulf Frykman added that the animals “root around in the earth searching for food, and all the caesium stays in the ground. When they reach our worst areas, we’re expecting maybe 40,000 Bq/kg — that’s starting to look like 1986 for us all over again.”

If consumed by humans, it could increase the risk of cancer.

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