Global reporting on radioactive milk was bad news for regional business and political leaders. In the past few years, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia have been working, yet again, to close the last chapter on the Chernobyl disaster. Russian officials announced in December 2014 that they reduced in half the number of communities in Russia considered contaminated that qualify for subsidies. Belarusian officials have been cooperating with international agencies for a decade to return contaminated land to farm production, and a state run company is constructing Belarus' first nuclear power plant on its northern border with Lithuania. Ukrainian leaders, meanwhile, are dreaming up plans to transform their section of the Zone into a nuclear industrial park. Officials assert their plans for resuming economic activity on Chernobyl contaminated ground can go forward because the level of radiation has decreased to safe levels. Life, they say, can return to normal. Well, almost normal, until a reporter discovers strontium 90 in milk.
In the dawning age of the Anthropocene, humans are grappling with new temporal orders presented by a mounting, steadily accruing layer of toxins and carbons produced and released by human activity. One thousand years from now geologists will find substances in the sedimentary layer, among them radioactive isotopes, which they will date starting about 1945. The scientists of the future will be able to track the remnants of plutonium, uranium and other isotopes as they multiplied on the earth's surface in the decades of nuclear weapons testing followed by decades of furious reactor construction. They will locate hot spots of concentrated activity, but generally the isotopes will embrace the planet like the sweet icing glaze encircling a donut: existing everywhere, holding fast, spiking the flavour of life... read more: