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Hemp Cleans Up in Chernobyl

Scientists are hopeful that plants grown for biomass production, may play a key role in cleaning up some of the contamination left behind when Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, caught fire. The resultant blaze would de-humanise a region 100km (60 miles) in all directions.

http://pr.cannazine.co.uk : On the morning of April 26, 1986, a small town in the former Soviet Union was the site of a nuclear explosion which quite literally, shook the earth.

The historic accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Reactor 4 in the Ukraine caused severe radioactive contamination.

Families within a 30-km zone of the power plant were evacuated, and in the months that followed, extensive contamination was discovered in areas up to 100 km from the site.

Scientists from the Belarus government, and from Irish specialists Greenfield, are hopeful that hemp plants may play a key role in cleaning up some of the contamination via the process of Phytoremediation.

Phytoremediation describes the treatment of environmental problems (bioremediation) through the use of plants which mitigate the environmental problem without the need to excavate the contaminant material and dispose of it elsewhere.

Until now any thoughts of using the land for agriculture were on stop, as a result of the high levels of contaminants in the soil.
But by using hemp to create bio-fuels (namely ethanol), scientists believe they can take advantage of the large amounts of contaminants hemp removes from soil as a by product of growing, trapping them in the plants, which are then removed entirely once the crop cycle completes.

Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said: "Belarus depends on imports of energy resources, which is why we invest considerable effort in building up technologies which can work on local and renewable energy sources.

"We consider ethanol to be one of the most promising and sustainable sources of cheap and nature-friendly energy, and we have several advantages for its production here.

"Firstly, Belarus' agriculture can easily supply the necessary volume of biomass for ethanol production.

"Then, Belarus is probably the only country in Europe with vast territories which can be used for biomass production, the lands affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe 21 years ago.

"We can link the economic rehabilitation of these lands to agricultural production of biomass for the energy sector."

The Minister concluded: "The Government of Belarus has declared ethanol a priority topic for energy development, so we are very happy today to see the first steps being taken, in what we are sure will be a successful and large-scale development of ethanol production."

Greenfield chairwoman Ann McClain said, "Greenfield's plan to produce bio-ethanol will use land which has been contaminated by radioactive isotopes to cultivate biomass crops for the ethanol distilleries and at the same time, we believe growing the biomass crops will work to clean up the affected areas".

"The benefits will be economic, of course", she concluded, "but above all they will be social and environmental."

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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.

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