In response to Cecil Adams’ recent “Straight Dope” column on the safety of nuclear energy (“Is nuclear power safe?” March 31), it should be mentioned that recent studies have challenged the widely held belief that the Chernobyl “exclusion zone” is a paradise for wildlife. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, wildlife is less abundant in the vicinity of Chernobyl than previously thought—and those animals that do live in the area seem to have an inordinately high incidence of abnormalities.
It should be noted, also, that the statistics on death and disease rates do not convey the grim reality experienced by those people who still live in areas that were seriously polluted by the Chernobyl disaster. For a picture of the human impacts of this tragedy, I recommend reading the essay “The Way to the Forest: A Story from Chernobyl” by Joanna Macy. This essay can be found in the book The Soul of Nature, edited by Michael Tobias and Georgianne Cowan.