A new study published December 17, 2020 in the Environmental International Journal reported researchers from Greenpeace Research Labs have found ongoing contamination in wheat, rye, oats, and barley grown in an area 31 miles south of the nuclear plant. The radioactivity – strontium 90 and cesium 137- were above safe consumption levels. The strontium 90 was above safe levels in 48% of the samples. The half-life of strontium 90 is 29 years and the half-life of cesium 137 is 30 years. Both are byproducts of nuclear fission and are dangerous. Strontium 90 is a “bone seeker” in the human body and will be attracted and deposited into bone.
The area that was tested is outside Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone” a 30 mile radius around the plant that was evacuated in 1986. The Chernobyl event happened on April 26, 1986. The Ukrainian government suspended its radioactive monitoring program of the area in 2013.
The researchers also found that wood samples taken from this area between 2015 and 2019 had strontium 90 levels above the safe limit for firewood. The researchers believe the strontium 90 lingering in the wood may be responsible for the continuing contamination of the grain crop. The analysis of the wood ash after burning the wood in a domestic wood-burning stove showed it was 25 times higher than the safe limit. The local people living in this area use the ash from their wood burning stoves along with ash gathered from the local thermal power plant to fertilize their crops.
Computer simulations show that it would be possible to reduce the radiation to a “safe” level if the Ukrainian government would reinstate monitoring and design a program to eliminate the recycling of radioactive ash into the soil. Researchers also want the Ukrainian government to investigate the use of the ash from the local thermal power plant on the soil.