SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mutant tree. Blue spruce damaged by radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Ukraine (formerly part of the USSR). Some of the tree's needles are growing longer and are lighter in colour than normal. Even low doses of radiation can cause mutations in living organisms. Fallout from the Chernobyl disaster directly destroyed 6 square kilometres of nearby forest but also contaminated much of northern Europe. The disaster occurred on 25th April 1986 after an experiment on Reactor 4 went out of control. Over a billion billion becquerels of radioactive nuclides were released. Photograph taken near the Pripyat River, Ukraine, in 1988.
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