[ RadSafe ] Review of Wormwood Forest

Dukelow, James S Jr jim.dukelow at pnl.gov
Fri Nov 11 14:00:39 CST 2005

The current (Dec 2005) issue of Discover magazine has a review by David
Samuels of Mary Mycio's book _Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of
Chernobyl_, published by Joseph Henry Press.

Mycio provides a book-length description of the somewhat
counter-intuitive fact that an environmental insult that removes humans
from an area will benefit the wildlife.  Although radiation exposures in
the Chenobyl exclusion zone were relatively high right after the
accident (now reduced to approximately the level of background radiation
in Denver), the elimination of human competition for resources led to a
vigorous expansion of populations of beavers, wolves, lynx, storks, red
deer, and moose.  Additionally, as part of an effort to rebuild
populations of the archaic Eurasian Przewalski's horse, two herds have
been introduced around Chernobyl and are thriving.

We see something similar on the Hanford Site in south-central Washington
State.  Frequently described as the worst of the US Superfund sites,
Hanford supports thriving populations of deer, coyote, elk, raptors,
geese, pelicans, terns, salmon, and sturgeon.  The Hanford coyotes are
among the most luxuriantly-coated I have seen anywhere.  Come hunting
season, deer swim across the Columbia to get away from the hunters.

Best regards.

Jim Dukelow
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, WA
jim.dukelow at pnl.gov

These comments are mine and have not been reviewed and/or approved by my
management or by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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