A Dutch forensic team, in a shock finding in conjunction with the Chernobyl disaster, said on Friday that what was thought to be the last of the radioactive element lead cesium in the country had been recovered from a lake more than 40 years earlier, according to Dutch media.
The Omicron variant, which is used in gas refineries and canisters for waste water treatment, was used in the abandoned petrochemical plant Chernobyl in the early 1980s and was brought to Europe by container ships.
Following the explosion at the plant, one of its tanks was recycled and used as a reservoir. It was recently drained and entered the lakes of the Netherlands as part of a restoration project.
It took researchers nearly four years to finally excavate the water stream, according to Dutch media. The group’s initial analysis proved successful, and as of now, the entire reservoir should be cleaned up.
Medical expert Haslanger Johnnies told Venerbeek-Zeeland (Free Republic, Dutch; translated by the London School of Economics, U.K.): “If you go back to any period, you have these contaminants around. From early childhood on, you are exposed to these contamination substances in a different way…This was accumulated over forty years. So you have really lost that exposure period.”
The World Health Organization said in an emailed statement that the contamination should be cleaned up in “a bid to prevent more widespread health damage and environmental degradation.”
More than 30,000 people died from their exposure to radiation in the immediate aftermath of the 1986 accident, according to early estimates.
Read the full story at New York Daily News.
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