On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded (twice), spewing out an immense amount of radiation—at least 5% of the reactor core—into the atmosphere. Two workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 died from acute radiation poisoning within three months of the accident. The radiation spread over much of western Russia and Europe and was detected thousands of miles away from the site, resulting in lasting impacts on both health and the environment. 28 years on, radiation is still cropping up in surprising places, even in wild boar roaming German forests some 700 miles from Chernobyl, according to The Telegraph.
Wild boar dig up soil in search of food such as mushrooms and truffles (not the chocolate kind, the really expensive fungus). This is probably why these animals are so affected since the radiation that swept over from Chernobyl contaminated a lot of ground soil. Furthermore, mushrooms and truffles are known to store radiation, and many that are growing in the affected areas are also thought to be unfit for human consumption.
Wild boar meat is a German delicacy, often served up in the form of salami, but before you spit out your boardog—the animals are tested before they are turned into food products. The compulsory tests, which are conducted by the state government of Saxony, have revealed that more than one in three boars hunted for meat are unfit for human consumption because of their radiation levels.
The safe limit has been set at 600 becquerels per kilogram—any animal carcass found to be above this must be destroyed. In just one year, 297 out of the 752 boars tested in Saxony exceeded 600 Bq/kg. Some were even found to be dozens of times over the limit, according to The Telegraph. However, the limit is fairly low, so there is no need for panic.
Unfortunately for Germany, the radiation is damaging more than just premium sausage stocks. Many hunters sell the boar as game, so the German government has to pay out compensation to the hunters whose animals must be destroyed. Given the current levels of radiation that are being detected, experts anticipate that the problem probably won’t go away for some time and it may even be another 50 years before the boar cool down to normal levels.