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The Dead Trees And Fallen Leaves Near Chernobyl Aren't Decaying Properly

The Dead Trees And Fallen Leaves Near Chernobyl Aren't Decaying Properly

The nuclear disaster of 1986 is considered to be the worst nuclear disaster in history.

The Chernobyl disaster was caused by a nuclear accident at the 4th reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the town of Pripyat, in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. The explosion contaminated the soil, water, and atmosphere with radioactive material. The radioactive material is equivalent to 20 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Moreover, the pine trees which are located in the zone of alienation turned red after absorbing high levels of radiation, and died shortly after the accident.

On 26 April 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted out radioactive material over 58,000 square miles of Eastern Europe. The authorities set up the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone— an area closed to the public after a nuclear power plant had exploded here.

More than 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. However, the effects of the disaster are still felt today. Although no people live in extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, there are still signs of radiation poisoning in animals and plants.

Pripyat, Chernobyl

According to the study published in Oecologia in 2014, decomposers such as microbes, fungi, and certain types of insects that drive the decay process have also suffered from contamination due to which dead vegetation in the zone is decaying much more slowly than normal organic material.

Scientists who have been studying the environment within the Alienation Zone have noticed something weird about trees around the exclusion zone, the trees are not decomposing, and their leaves are just sitting there on the ground, not decomposing properly. According to him the reason for this lack of decay around Chernobyl is that microbes, bacteria, fungi, worms, insects, and other living organisms known as decomposers are simply not there and are not doing their job.

These Microorganisms play a vital role in every ecological community, both as producers and as decomposers. It plays several vital roles in ecosystems like decomposition, oxygen production, evolution, and symbiotic relationships. The decomposition process provides nutrients that future plants and animals will be able to reuse, making the soil more fertile.

Scientists estimate that the area around the former plant will not be habitable for up to 20,000 years.

In April 2015, within 20kms of the abandoned nuclear power plant, a large forest fire burned almost 400 hectares of forest, raising fears that the flames would burn shrub and woodland surrounding the disaster zone, which could have released radioactive material into the atmosphere. The forest was again devastated by another wildfire in April 2020 that caused an unknown amount of damage. The impact of the disaster on the surrounding forests and wildlife remains an area of active research.

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