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5 Nov, 2020 15:17

Radioactive shrooms?! Ukraine arrests two men for picking bucketloads of fungi in Chernobyl’s nuclear exclusion zone

Radioactive shrooms?! Ukraine arrests two men for picking bucketloads of fungi in Chernobyl’s nuclear exclusion zone

Ukraine’s State Border Service has detained two local men who collected 40kg of mushrooms from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, apparently for "personal consumption." Removing plants from the disaster area is strictly forbidden.

With contamination in the soil near the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, eating plants grown there could have deadly consequences.

Entrance into the zone is strictly controlled by Ukrainian authorities, and it is illegal to cross the border of the 2,600 km2 reservation without permission. It is also forbidden to remove items from the area due to potential radioactive contamination, including flora and fauna. According to Ukrainian law, such activity could be punished by a fine, or even up to three years behind bars.

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Pictures published by the border service on Wednesday show the men with buckets-full of large mushrooms.

The exclusion zone was established in 1986, shortly after an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which spread huge amounts of radiation across Europe. It is considered to be one of the worst man-made disasters in human history. As a result of the explosion, anyone living within 10km of the power plant was evacuated, which quickly increased to 30km after Soviet officials began to understand the severity of the accident. Over the years, the exclusion zone’s dimensions have been modified, and 2,600km2 of Ukrainian land is mostly uninhabited. Just north of the border, in neighboring Belarus, there is also an exclusion zone, though smaller in size.


Last month, scientists from the UK's Bristol University sent a robot dog into the exclusion zone to measure radiation levels, in order to create 3D maps of radioactive activity in the area.

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