People living in the surrounding areas of the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine continue to eat food contaminated with radiation from the nuclear accident that occurred thirty years ago, according to a new study by Greenpeace.

The environmental group's report, "Nuclear Scars", reveals how the nuclear mishaps in Chernobyl and Fukushima in Japan continue to impact the lives of millions of residents living near the two power plants. It is based on data gathered by Greenpeace from various scientific researches, survivor profiles and monitoring of radiation levels in the Ukraine, Russia and Japan.

While recent scientific tests carried out in affected areas near Chernobyl found that the overall contamination levels concerning strontium-90 and caesium-137 isotopes have dropped relatively over the past few years, they continue to exist, especially in forests.

This means that residents are still exposed to high radiation levels that were brought on by the nuclear plant explosion in April 26, 1986.

"It is in what they eat and what they drink. It is in the wood they use for construction and burn to keep warm," the researchers wrote in the report.

Greenpeace said that because of the economic struggles and the pro-Russian insurgency the Ukraine has been going through in recent years, its government no longer has enough money to fund programs that could help keep people safe from radiation.

Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus, two other countries affected by the 1986 nuclear disaster, are also going through some financial hardships of their own.

In its analysis of grain samples, Greenpeace found that some affected areas even have increased levels of radioactive contamination.

The group warns that people living in these places will continue to suffer the effects of nuclear radiation on their health as long as the contamination persists.

"Thousands of children, even those born 30 years after Chernobyl, still have to drink radioactively contaminated milk," Greenpeace said.

In Japan, forests around the Fukushima power plant site have served as repositories for the radioactive contaminants that were produced during the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Unless these contaminants are eliminated, Greenpeace said they will continue to pose a significant health risk to residents for years to come.

The environmental group said that the decontamination efforts made by the Japanese government in the years following the nuclear accident have not been enough, leading to the possibility of recontamination in areas that already been declared radiation-free.

Photo: Stefan Krasowski | Flickr 

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