WIRED: Chernobyl Was a Wildlife Haven. Then Russian Troops Arrived

The area around the defunct power plant has been an unexpected rewilding success story. Now attempts to monitor progress are hampered by the war.

  • On February 24, Russian troops entered the Exclusion Zone from bordering Belarus. By the end of the day, they had taken control of the nuclear power plant, trapping more than 100 employees there.
  • Workers at the site told Reuters that Russian soldiers drove armored vehicles through the Red Forest—one of the most contaminated parts of the Exclusion Zone—kicking up clouds of radioactive dust.
  • Over the following weeks, experts grew concerned that without proper cooling, spent nuclear fuel still stored at the site could overheat—and indeed the facility lost power for more than a day.
  • On March 31, Ukraine’s state nuclear company, Energoatom, said that Russian troops had left the power plant, according to a report by the BBC. Until scientists can return to the area, the effect the invasion has had on the Exclusion Zone is still unknown.
“They are going through hell,” he says. “[I want] to show support not just through Facebook or Zoom, but say ‘We are still here. We are still coming back to do research.’”

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Chernobyl Was a Wildlife Haven. Then Russian Troops Arrived

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