Fission Stories #123: Rudolph the Glow-in-the-Dark Reindeer

January 1, 2013
Dave Lochbaum
Former contributor

About a year after the April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, the media reported:

Norwegian scientists said yesterday that they have found record high radioactivity in a reindeer shot in eastern Norway, nearly one year after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union. Scientists said tests showed that meat from the animal carried 98,500 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 lbs), far above the safety limits of 6,000 set by health authorities and that it must be destroyed as unfit for human consumption.

Our Takeaway

No wonder Rudolph’s nose glowed so brightly. And no wonder the other reindeer were reluctant to include him in their games.

An accident at a nuclear plant near Kiev in the Ukraine contaminates a reindeer several hundred miles away to more than 15 times safe levels. Were all foodstuffs and water within range of Chernobyl’s fallout also monitored for contamination and prevented from being consumed, or have people unknowingly consumed harmful amounts of radioactivity?

No one knows, not even the Shadow.


“Fission Stories” is a weekly feature by Dave Lochbaum. For more information on nuclear power safety, see the nuclear safety section of UCS’s website and our interactive map, the Nuclear Power Information Tracker.