Chernobyl fears resurface as river dredging begins in exclusion zone

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Scientists warn of threat of nuclear contamination from work on giant E40 waterway linking Baltic to the Black Sea

The river running past the Chernobyl nuclear reactor is being dredged to create an inland shipping route, potentially resurfacing radioactive sludge from the 1986 disaster that could contaminate drinking water for 8 million people in Ukraine, scientists and conservationists have warned.

The dredging of the Pripyat began in July and is part of an international project to create the 2,000km (1,240-mile) long E40 waterway linking the Baltic and Black seas, passing through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. The river – which snakes within 2.5km of the reactor responsible for the world’s worst nuclear disaster – has already been dredged in at least seven different places, five of which are within 10km of the reactor, according to the Save Polesia coalition.

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