What should science do in anomalous zones? The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is one such. There are many discussions about the tasks, goals and purpose of “Chernobyl science” now. What is the reality that with its efforts we can revive the exclusion zone and give it a pristine appearance?
Today, a number of scientific laboratories still continue to study the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Are they connected exclusively with the revival of the natural landscape, the search for new technological processes in order to help nature recover, or are we on the verge of new anomalous experiments?
As you know, scientists have carried out in great detail a huge range of research work since the Chernobyl disaster to establish a real picture of the effects of radiation and contamination of the territory after the accident.
Tests were conducted to determine the methods of protecting agricultural products, tons of papers were scribbled, regarding studies of the biological properties of Chernobyl radionuclides – all this required great efforts from scientists. Nevertheless, not one fundamental discovery based on the accumulated Chernobyl material has been recognized by the international scientific community.
Soviet scientists did not have a proven practice in the first years after the Chernobyl disaster that would facilitate the proper registration of scientific discoveries with a view to their international recognition. In addition, the so-called anomalies in the exclusion zone have one single nature of occurrence – the reaction of nuclear decay. This is understandable from the point of view of the history of nuclear physics.
What is the danger?
On the one hand, the risks associated with the operation of nuclear technologies are bridgeable and manageable. If, of course, you use the necessary protective equipment and decontamination mechanisms, and if their scale is not qualified as catastrophic.
Global disasters, in particular the Chernobyl accident – the largest accident in the history of mankind at a nuclear complex enterprise – should not be attributed here. At the same time, even the Chernobyl disaster, recognized by the world from the technogenic point of view as one of the largest on the planet, did not lead to anomalies that science could not explain, or that would be fundamentally uncontrollable.
No significant artifacts of unexplained anomalous consequences after the disaster were found. Everything also did not work out with mutants in the form of two-headed deer, we will leave this version to readers with wild imagination. Although, it was actively cultivated by “couch psychics” and was inspired by the public as evidence, especially in the first years after the disaster.
True, only the fact of the unambiguous death of living organisms, instantaneous or extended over time, was evident, and this diagnosis no longer promised this genetic metamorphosis and “evil jokes” with DNA pathologies. Imagination of a person can sometimes lead to no less terrible consequences than the decay products of uranium, in any case from a psychological point of view – that’s for sure.
Therefore, science was faced with a different super-task – the return of the territory affected by the Chernobyl accident to natural economic circulation. The main research task was to study the negative impact of radiation on the environment, to find ways to clean the area from radioactive contamination in order to implement this strategy. This concerned primarily the landscape and the agricultural industry.
Scientific work was widespread in the first after the emergency period – there was a search for technological processes for obtaining clean products in the field of forestry, fish and agrarian sector. Radiobiologists conducted experiments with living organisms (mice, rats) on the impact of radiation on the ecosystem as a whole. Such a wide front of research is a substantial reserve for the prospective analysis of the functioning of the exclusion zone.
The flip side of science
The beginning of the 90s of the last century is a time of disintegration of not only the political system for post-Soviet science during which the Chernobyl accident has occurred. Chernobyl science began to reckon with external signs of decline .
Then there was no clear concept – what is the exclusion zone? The lack of a clear interagency link has led to negative organizational consequences, and, as a result, to the inability to carry out a full cycle of scientific research. “Science” in the exclusion zone began to lose its self-sufficiency.
Many scientific works have turned into a stereotyped recording of the results of measurements of the content of radionuclides in the environment due to the chronic lack of funding. By 2002, the issue had arisen of reducing scientific units in the Chernobyl territory. Separate landfills of radioactive waste were removed from the balance sheet, studies often began to have a formal character. Many scientists began to leave the Chernobyl NPP laboratory due to a partial or sometimes complete lack of funding.
Only a few experimental sites remained in the development of scientists. Those who remained devoted to science did not study the Chernobyl butterflies. Few remained not to let Chernobyl science die – those for whom professionalism and devotion became more important than any intra-departmental disagreements.
It is probably not worth blaming only the events that took place in post-Soviet Chernobyl for the degradation of science in the exclusion zone. In fact, this is a vivid example of the general impoverishment of the state against the backdrop of the collapse of the old system of governance and political stagnation. Ukraine turned out to be closed in a deep economic crisis in the first half of the 90s.
The so-called “controllability” of the Chernobyl exclusion zone has become declarative in nature. Chernobyl has ceased to inspire frank fear in many. It remained only with those who did not know the situation from the inside.
Even today, the relevance and severity of perception of the problem arise only when the situation around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is heated by the request of society, a kind of conjuncture. The resonance associated with the prosperity of wildlife in the Chernobyl NPP is a good example of this. The flourish of flora and fauna, “rested” from the human factor served as a new round in the development of the Polesie region.
The creation of the Chernobyl radiation-ecological biosphere reserve is a consequence of, among other things, these factors. It is hoped that the contribution of science to its development will not be taken into account by the residual principle. As scientists once predicted, nature took its toll. Now the main thing is not to interfere with this, either opportunistically or physically.