The Null Device
20 years after the Chernobyl disaster, scientists are finding the contaminated area teeming with radioactive, but otherwise perfectly healthy, wildlife, including species scarce elsewhere:
There may be plutonium in the zone, but there is no herbicide or pesticide, no industry, no traffic, and marshlands are no longer being drained.
Cattle on the same island were stunted due to thyroid damage, but the next generation were found to be surprisingly normal. Now it's typical for animals to be radioactive - too radioactive for humans to eat safely - but otherwise healthy.Scientists have analysed the DNA of Chernobyl wildlife and found them to have many mutations, though nothing altering their physiology or impairing their survival. (Which probably is at least partly due to those that were adversely affected having died and been eaten; nature's adaptability is of little comfort if one happens to be one of the unfortunate individuals that don't make the cut.) This has led some environmentalists, most notably James "Gaia theory" Lovelock, to suggest the burying of radioactive waste in endangered forests to keep developers, poachers and other human threats away.
The BBC also has a number of dramatic and well-shot photo galleries from the environs of Chernobyl: of the abandoned city of Pripyat (now with stencil art by visiting graffitiists and gas masks scattered by photographers for dramatic effect), of the vast graveyards of contaminated vehicles, and of abandoned villages in the exclusion zone.