Alps Still Contaminated
By Radiation From Chernobyl
PARIS (AP) -- The peaks of the Alps still contain radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, according to a study released Saturday.
Campers, shepherds, park wardens, mushroom lovers and others who frequent the mountainous heights could be at risk and should be warned, the report said.
The Paris-based Center for Research and Independent Information on Radioactivity based its conclusions on tests conducted in 1996 and 1997 in the French, Italian, Swiss and Austrian Alps.
The Alps were particularly affected by radiation from the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant because of their height and the trajectory of the toxic cloud the blast produced, the study said.
Scientists took soil samples in the Alps from 40 places at heights ranging from 5,000 to 9,000 feet. They found soil contaminated with Cesium-137, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 30 years, as well as Americium-241, a radioactive substance that disperses much more slowly than cesium.
The center intends to submit its findings to the French Environment Ministry on Monday.
Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded during a test April 26, 1986, killing at least 32 people in the immediate aftermath and spewing a deadly radioactive cloud across large parts of the former Soviet Union and Europe.

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