Chernobyl Disaster Still Endangers Animals


The Chernobyl disaster, in which a nuclear reactor exploded in 1986, still harms animals in the Ukraine. A British study has showed that the number of birds, insects and other animals has gone down over the past two decades. It appears that animals are dying because they are still exposed to a small amount of radiation, which the research team found at the Chernobyl site.

Especially the bird population is diminishing because the number of grasshoppers and other insects, which birds rely on for food, has gone down. At the moment the team is looking at the population of ground animals like squirrels, rabbits and foxes. Although the studies have not been completed yet the number of these animals seems to have gone down too.

There may be two reasons for the reduced animal population. Firstly, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster could have been passed from one generation to the next, due to dirt, food and contaminated water. Secondly, as one group of animals weakens, another may take its place. This new group may become endangered as well. Still, the danger is not nearly is big as it was a decade ago when the first study took place. At that time there were still vey high radiation levels around the Chernobyl power plant and animals somehow still managed to survive. Since then, however, scientists have found out that some species mutated.


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  • although = while, even though
  • amount = quantity
  • appear = seem
  • complete = finish
  • contaminated = something that cannot be used because of the radiation
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • diminish = go down
  • disaster = accident in which many people are killed
  • due to = because of
  • endangered = in danger of dying out
  • especially = above all
  • expose = here: to be in contact with
  • harm = damage, hurt
  • level = amount
  • manage = to somehow be able to do something
  • mutate = to change and grow into a new form
  • nuclear reactor = a power station that produces electricity by splitting atoms
  • population = here: the animals that live in a certain area
  • reduced = lower
  • rely on = to depend on
  • research = finding information about something
  • seem = appear
  • site = place
  • species = a group of animals that are alike and can have babies together
  • squirrel = an animal with a furry tail that climbs up trees and eats nuts
  • study = research; work that is done to find out more about a subject
  • survive = to continue to live