The infamous nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant, near Pripyat in Soviet Ukraine, occurred 30 years ago. A
fire and series of explosions in one of the plant's reactors
caused the largescale release of radiation across parts of Belarus,
Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of Europe.
Despite extensive containment and decontamination efforts,
lingering radiation in the area immediately surrounding the site of
the meltdown has rendered the land uninhabitable for humans, likely
for centurties. Other uses of the land, such as forestry or
farming, have also been deemed too risky. As a result, a large
swathe of once-viable land in northern Ukraine sits unused.
It's not that the area is completely devoid of life. The
land hosts a handful of residents
who returned after the evacuation and refuse to leave;
increasing populations of wild animals that have begun to
repopulate the area; a large work force whose individuals ensure
the ongoing containment of the plant's aging reactors for
short, infrequent periods of time; and participants in a growing
"dark tourism" business that shuttles in tourists
seeking a quick peak at the eerie post-disaster environs. But
officials and investors are now hoping to put the land back into
largescale productive use by building a solar farm.
The move would not only reclaim productive use of what is
otherwise largely a dead zone, but would also help ease some of
Ukraine's current energy woes, as it remains partially reliant
upon natural gas imports from Russia. It would also be a large
investment in renewable energy, helping to reduce Ukraine's
carbon footprint. The project, should it ultimately take off,
demonstrates an interesting and innovative approach towards
recovering heavily contaminated land—a legacy with which
jurisdictions around the world are dealing at some level—that
also promotes green energy production.
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