Kiev: Greenpeace said today that
hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are still eating food
contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant explosion a quarter-century after the blast.
In a report, the environmental group said samples of
milk, berries, potatoes and root vegetables in two Ukrainian
regions show unacceptably high levels of the radioactive
isotope cesium-137 from the 1986 blast.
The regions are in northwestern Ukraine, outside the
so-called "exclusion zone" around the plant, where residency
is generally prohibited.
Greenpeace researcher Iryna Labunska criticised the
government for halting counter-radiation measures in the
regions two years ago. Those measures included supplying
uncontaminated hay for dairy cattle.
Ukrainian government officials were not immediately
available for comment.
A reactor at the plant exploded on April 26, 1986,
spewing a cloud of radiation over much of the Northern
A zone of about 30-kilometer (19-mile) radius around
the plant was declared uninhabitable, although some plant
workers still live there for short periods and a few hundred
other people have returned despite government encouragement to
The samples cited by Greenpeace were taken in the
Rivne and Zhitomir regions, which were in the direct path of
the radiation cloud.
In one village in the Rivne region, milk samples
showed radioactive contamination up to 16 times higher than
the accepted norms, Greenpeace said. Mushroom and berry
samples showed radiation levels four times as high as
The report said that although most of the milk is
consumed in the region where it`s produced, the berries and
mushrooms presented a wider danger because they could be sold
at poorly supervised markets throughout the country.