Portsmouth University study looks into Chernobyl life

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A PORTSMOUTH University study has revealed no long term damage to aquatic animal life following the Chernobyl disaster.

The study – which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the accident – examined invertebrate animals, such as insects, snails and crustaceans, living along the shores of eight lakes.

Levels of radiation in the lakes ranged from near-background levels, considered normal, to around 300 times higher.

But no evidence was found that the abundance or diversity of animal life had been influenced by direct contamination from the Chernobyl accident.

The findings are published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity by Dr Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth Dr John Murphy from Queen Mary, University of London and Dr Liubov Nagorskaya of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

The results of the lake-based research are significant because they contrast with previous studies of the region’s land-based and flying insects which reported a negative impact associated with radiation from Chernobyl.

Dr Murphy said: ‘Our study found no evidence that radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl accident has had a direct influence on the lakes’ aquatic invertebrates.

‘We discovered over 230 species some of which are rare.’

The scientists examined samples from the lakes, in Belarus and the Ukraine, over two years and found diversity of measurements typical for the region.