Protective zone of Polesie State Radioecological Reserve will be waived by decree No 259. The document was signed by President Alexander Lukashenko, TUT.BY reported last week with a reference to the presidential press service.
It means that agricultural activity can now be carried in the buffer zone adjacent to the Belarusian lands bordering Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
The decree provides for the cancellation of the protective zone of Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, established in 1988, and the abolition of its borders and total area. The goal of the decree is to remove restrictions on the economic use of lands belonging to this buffer zone.
At present Polesie State Radioecological Reserve occupies a total of 216,093 hectares. It was created after the Chernobyl accident on the territories with one third of the “Chernobyl legacy” that fell out on Belarusian lands: 30% of cesium, 70% of strontium and 97% of plutonium.
The protective, or buffer, zone of the reserve is 0ne-kilometer wide strip of land along the reserve’s border in Bragin, Narovlyansky, Khoiniki, Mozyr and Kalinkovichi districts. Its function is to prevent the spread of radionuclides of unpolluted lands outside the reserve.
The protective zone appeared in 2014 and now stretches onto 22,000 hectares.
Alexander Podolyak, Deputy Director for Research in the Institute of Radiology, told TUT.BY that in 2014 the buffer zone was expanded onto the unpolluted territories. As a result, in some areas, the cultivation of crops was restricted.
In June President Alexander Lukashenko visited Polesie State Radioecological Reserve. After his visit, it was reported that some lands might be deprived of the protective status to be “more actively involved in the economic turnover”.
Based on it, several informed sources assumed that it could be done in the protective zone. Bragin and Narovlyansky districts confirmed their interest in the territories.
According to the website of Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, the lands included in it are contaminated by long-lived transuranium radionuclides and cannot be returned into economic use in the foreseeable future.
The level of polution of the lands in the buffer zone is significantly lower, but some of its parts have pollution levels exceeding 40 curies per square km. Parts of the protective zones where human access is forbidden are marked with special signs.