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Biofuel Industry Will Help Clean Up Chernobyl Site


Many different methods have been used to clean up the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, but I never thought harvesting biomass crops would be one of them. Apparently, the Belarus government believes that harvesting biomass crops repeatedly on the disaster site will eventually remove radionuclides from the soil.

If the plan works, radioactive contamination could be removed from 50,000 square km of land in 20 to 40 years— an encouraging timeline considering it will otherwise take centuries for radionuclides to disappear.

Greenfield Project Management is spearheading the project with a multi-fuels refinery that will produce ethanol, biodiesel, biogas, and electricity. The fuels will initially use feedstocks from clean lands, but the facilities will begin using crops from contaminated areas after safety checks and field trials.

The planning phase of the project will finish next year, and the refinery will begin production in 2010.

While the thought of using contaminated feedstocks makes me uneasy (despite safety assurances), this is great news for the Chernobyl area, which has been afflicted with radioactivity for far too long.

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was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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