Radioactive wild pigs threatening Bavarian forests

Writing in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, the scientists say that radioactive caesium from the tests have sunk into the earth, contaminating deer truffles - the food favoured by wild boars, who dig into the soil to find them.

But the truffles - and the subsequent contamination of wild boars - is unlikely to abate any time soon, the study says.

This is because more radioactive caesium from Chernobyl will seep further into the soil, further contaminating the truffles.

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“The boars’ continued contamination threatens the Bavarian forests themselves, the study says: as the animals are not shot for their meat, their populations are growing unsustainably.”

Sounds like it’s time to offer subsidies to boar hunters.


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Seems like an obvious question that the study should have answered…what is the radiation level in the boars compared to other animals or boars in another location.


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They don’t make that comparison in the abstract, but rather compare to a regulatory limit of 600 Becquerels (Bq) of cesium-137 per kg.

Here, we target radiocesium contamination in wild boars from Bavaria. Our samples (2019–2021) range from 370 to 15,000 Bq·kg–1 137Cs, thus exceeding the regulatory limits (600 Bq·kg–1) by a factor of up to 25.

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370 to 15,000 seems like quite a wide range.

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This bit is interesting…
Although Chornobyl has been widely believed to be the prime source of 137Cs in wild boars, we find that “old” 137Cs from weapons fallout significantly contributes to the total level (10–68%) in those specimens that exceeded the regulatory limit. In some cases, weapons-137Cs alone can lead to exceedances of the regulatory limit, especially in samples with a relatively low total 137Cs level.

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In other words, even if Chernobyl had not happened, some of the boar meat would still have exceeded the regulatory limit, just from the post war atmospheric weapons testing.

  • Pete

Would they even be doing radioactive testing if not for Chernobyl?

They might not have done this particular study, but environmental monitoring is required by the NRC in the US. I assume there are similar requirements in Europe and elsewhere. In the case of an accident, they want to know the baseline, so any increase above that baseline can be attributed. The atmospheric testing of A-bombs and H-bombs certainly created a baseline level for some of the long-lived radioactive isotopes.

Information from the NRC:

From the link:
Reactor operators must monitor the release of radioactive materials in liquid or the air, as well as direct radiation from the plant. Operating plants have controlled their releases so well that, to this point, all releases have been below the ALARA levels.

Reactor operators also measure radiation levels in the environment. Environmental samples come from the air, surface water (such as ponds, streams and lakes), groundwater, drinking water, milk, fish and shoreline sediment. Independent labs regularly verify the accuracy of licensees’ measuring systems. Licensees must report their release data, sampling and system verification results every year to the NRC.

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The above mentions monitoring fish, but I seem to remember the Health Physics people would sometimes trap small wild animals living near the plant in order to measure their radiation levels.

  • Pete

The Germans test everything. Scientists knew that atmospheric testing of weapons caused wide spread fallout around the world. Some countries measured the fallout and this lead to the world wide agreement to stop atmospheric testing.

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