Life Goes On
"Gomel Region? Somewhere near Chernobyl," unfortunately the association is typical for the "post-Chernobyl" era. This "visiting card" barely looks attractive both from psychological and economic points of view. At present, Gomel Region is doing its best to shake off the obsessive image of "a victim"
Indeed, the explosion that happened 19 years ago has for many years determined the special conditions of the region development. True, the Chernobyl catastrophe made the life harder. But 19 years is enough a mourning period. We have gathered courage to accept these conditions and tried to adapt to them.
The state farm Komarinsky situated in Bragin District can be cited as an example. As little as 27 kilometres separate it from the power plant. Everybody is aware of this, but no one is expecting any preferences. They work hard, produce uncontaminated goods and earn money.
It has always been the case. "The Great Depression" that followed the catastrophe dealt a heavy blow to Komarinsky, which used to specialise in milk production. Cows grazed on the polluted pastures and once local milk broke the record of a strontium level. The state farm stopped producing milk and started producing meat. It turned out that it is more economically sound to use biological supplements to remove radionuclids from cows than to sell "dirty" milk.
The state programme of re-specialisation and economic revival of the farms situated on the polluted lands is active in the region. Scientists draw up business-plans trying to choose the most effective way of development for each household.
We are not to blame that the south-east of Belarus has become a testing ground for studying the effects of radiation on people, animals and plants. Chernobyl has given rise to a whole scientific branch that focuses on Gomel Region and its research institutes.
Polesje radiation-ecological reserve located in the alienation zone is one of the unique foundations. The 216.000 hectares of the reserve are deprived from any human interference. Researchers observe the processes happening behind the barbed-wire fence.
National scientific and practical centre of radiation medicine and ecology in Gomel includes scientific and medical departments. As a result, today research institutes possess the most comprehensive information on how to overcome the effects of radiation pollution. The experience is extremely valuable, but hopefully it will never be needed for practical application.