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3 August 2011

Belarus to take stock of lands in Chernobyl-affected regions

MINSK, 3 August (BelTA) - Belarus will take stock of the lands in the regions affected by the Chernobyl disaster in order to put more areas back into economic use, the head of the Chernobyl department of the Emergencies Ministry Vladimir Chernikov told reporters. The decision to make the land inventory in the affected regions was made following a meeting of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers, and on the instruction of the Prime Minister of Belarus. According to Vladimir Chernikov, within two months specialists of the ministries and departments concerned, scientists of the National Academy of Sciences will study the state of the lands in the affected regions and will make suggestions about their possible future use. Belarus needs to take a decision on the possible use of the area of about 10,000-15,000 hectares, Vladimir Chernikov said. Twenty-five years that have passed since the Chernobyl disaster is the half-life of such elements as cesium and strontium, which are the main contaminants. So the question whether to use such land is becoming relevant for Belarus. According to experts, some of these lands can be used for planting forests or grassy crops. Probably these lands will not be used for growing crops for human consumption but will be recognized as suitable for cultivation of crops for technical applications. At the same time Vladimir Chernikov stressed that some of the contaminated areas will never be suitable for farming. For instance, the territory of the Polesie Reserve will be out of farm use for several centuries ahead. The official pointed out that the process of putting contaminated lands back into use would not be a single-step effort. A lot will depend on economic feasibility of their use.