Why Are There Radioactive Wild Boars Roaming Northern Italy?
CORRIERE DELLA SERA,LA STAMPA (Italy)
VERCELLI - This northern Italian city is more than 2,000 kilometers away from Chernobyl, so it’s almost impossible to imagine how the very same radioactive particles ended up here -- or in the innards of 27 wild boars.
Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope, formed by nuclear fission on nuclear sites. The particle was infamously released into the environment during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
The Milan daily Corriere della Sera reports that 27 samples of wild boar tongues and diaphragms from the 2012-2013 hunting season had been analyzed, which led to the discovery of the elevated levels of the caesium-137 -- levels that are consistent with a nuclear accident.
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A presumed non-radioactive boar. Photo by GerardM
A mobile screening laboratory has been set up to test boars in the region, reports sas La Stampa. Meanwhile, the land and water will be checked by the ecologic branch of the Carabinieri police force, and health protection units are checking all products from the region: foraged goods, wild fruit, mushrooms, milk and cheese.
The most probable hypothesis is that the particles have been around since the Chernobyl disaster, but toxic waste from nuclear sites in the zone should not be ruled out.
“It can’t be anything but the fallout from Chernobyl,” said Gian Piero Godio, nuclear expert from the Environmental Association, Legambiente. “Other explanations just don’t make sense: the Valsesia plant doesn’t have any radioactive sources.”
A model of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, after the disaster. Photo by stahlmandesign