Rachel Nuwer


What Chernobyl's Wildlife Can Teach Humans

As more nuclear power plants are built around the globe, understanding the effects of radiation is essential

Wild horses running in Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone (Getty Images)

The 1,000-square mile exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant has remained virtually free from human intrusion for the last 30 years—ever since the landscape was blanketed in lethal levels of radiation following a catastrophic meltdown. The years since have seen a gradual rewilding of the area, with nature reclaiming the ghost town surrounding the defunct plant, and animals large and small moving into the surrounding forests. Headlines trumpet that the wildlife is “thriving,” “flourishing,” and ruling the landscape.

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