A team of international scientists has conducted a study of the forests surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine that suggests that climate change could cause a wildfire in the region that would release previously absorbed radioactive elements, ABC has reported.
Forests surrounding Chernobyl have been absorbing contamination from the plant since its 1986 nuclear reactor explosion. Climate change, drought and lack of adequate forest management have made the parched trees susceptible to wildfires that would cause the release of radioactive elements such as strontium 90, cesium 137 and plutonium 238.
Researchers forecast that if the Chernobyl forests are struck by wildfire, the contaminants could spread far outside the region.
Image: Radioactivity warning sign outside of Chernobyl’s forests (Credit: Timm Suess, Wikimedia Commons)