Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What to do with Chernobyl

Entrance to the Zone of AlienationImage via Wikipedia

I was reminded in a conversation with a key project director handling atomic power plant safety for the EC in Ukraine about a recent article in the Guardian (I think) discussing the growing participation in, basically, "visits to hell" tourism. The article described the tours that are given in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant. These tours sometimes result in contamination by those careless enough to sit on the ground, brush up against dust or otherwise collect radioactive material on clothing, hair and skin. It doesn't seem to dissuade people from paying for these tours.

The exclusion zone is extensive and divided into 4 zones, but the most dangerous part is the 30 square kilometers around the plant. The radioactive material covering this area will not be going anywhere for a very long time, to say the least. Clean-up within this area would be astronomically expensive and it is unlikely that the EU will or would want to foot the bill. However, my friend reminded me that the commercialization of the inner zone by utilizing it as a radioactive waste storage facility could help to fund a clean-up of the surrounding zones and pay for itself.

The commercialization itself would avoid the unending search for radioactive waste sites which would destroy existing eco-systems and are subject to not-in-my-backyard protests. It certainly would not require an environmental impact statement.

Commericialization would need to be funded, of course and I have no idea if this is feasible. But, if the European Commission wanted to fund something useful, perhaps this is a project that should be investigated

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