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The Chernobyl Syndrome
Sophie Pinkham

切爾諾貝利綜合癥
蘇菲·平克漢姆



TASS/Valery Zufavov/Vladimir Repik/Getty Images

塔斯社/瓦萊麗·祖法沃夫/弗拉基米爾·雷皮科/蓋蒂圖片

A worker measuring radiation after the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, August 1986

1986年八月,一位工作人員在位于烏克蘭北部的切爾諾貝利核電廠測量爆炸之后的放射物。

On the night of April 25, 1986, during a planned maintenance shutdown at the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, one of the four reactors overheated and began to burn. As plant engineers scrambled to regain control of it, they thought for a moment that there had been an earthquake. In fact, a buildup of steam had propelled the two-hundred-ton concrete top of the reactor’s casing into the air, with masses of radioactive material following close behind when the core exploded. The plant workers had been assured again and again of the safety of the “peaceful atom,” and they couldn’t imagine that the reactor had exploded.

1986年四月25日夜晚,正值烏克蘭北部的切爾諾貝利核電廠按計劃停機維護期間,四座反應堆中的一座因過熱開始燃燒。正當核電廠的工程師們爬上去想重新控制局面時,(爆炸發生了),(但是)當時的他們一定認為是發生地震了。事實卻是聚集的蒸汽掀翻了這座反應堆重達200噸的水泥頂,并將它推向天空。緊隨爆炸而來的是大量放射物質外泄。這座核電廠的工作人員曾接受到的保證是這些 “熱愛和平的原子” 是安全的,因此他們無法想象這座核反應堆爆炸了。



General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was informed that there had been an explosion and fire at the plant but that the reactor itself had not been seriously damaged. No one wanted to be the bearer of catastrophic news. When the occasional official raised the question of whether to warn civilians and evacuate the city of Pripyat, which had been built to house workers from the Chernobyl plant, he was admonished to wait for higher-ups to make a decision and for a committee to be formed. Panic and embarrassment were of greater concern than public safety. The KGB cut Pripyat’s intercity telephone lines and prevented residents from leaving, as part of the effort to keep news of the disaster from spreading. Some locals were savvy enough to try to leave on their own. But with no public warning, many didn’t take even the minimal precaution of staying indoors with the windows shut. One man was happily sunbathing the next morning, pleased by the speed with which he was tanning. He was soon in the hospital.

戈爾巴喬夫總書記得到的通知是核電廠發生了爆炸和火災,但是發生爆炸的反應堆本身沒有遭到嚴重破壞。沒人想當這起災難性新聞的傳遞者,所以當臨時的政府工作人員詢問是否警告并疏散普利皮亞特市(修建該市就是為切爾諾貝利核電廠的工作人員提供住處的)市民時,他責備那人并讓其等待上級的決定,同時等待一個專門委員會的成立 。相對于公共安全,驚恐以及令人尷尬的局面才是擔心之所在。克格勃切斷了普利皮亞特市的城際電話線,并阻止居民離開,這樣做也是為了防止有關這場災難的新聞擴散出去。一些有見地的本地人嘗試憑一己之力離開, 但是由于沒有公開發出警告,許多人甚至都沒有采取待在室內并關閉門窗這樣最基本的預防措施。有一個人曾在災難發生的第二天愉快地曬了一次日光浴,并對本次皮膚曬黑的速度感到高興。此人不久就進了醫院。

Moscow officials eventually realized that the reactor had exploded, and that there was an imminent risk of another, much larger explosion. More than thirty-six hours after the initial meltdown, Pripyat was evacuated. Columns of Kiev city buses had been sent to wait for evacuees on the outskirts of the city, absorbing radiation while plans were debated. These radioactive buses deposited their radioactive passengers in villages chosen to house the refugees, then returned to their regular routes in Kiev. Over the next two weeks, another 75,000 people were resettled from the thirty-kilometer area around Pripyat, which was to become known as the “Exclusion Zone,” and which remains almost uninhabited to this day.

莫斯科的官員終于意識到該反應堆爆炸了,并帶來了另一個迫在眉睫的危險——放射性物質向更大范圍擴散。自反應堆最初熔毀,又過了三十六個多小時,普利皮亞特市終于開始疏散了。但是疏散計劃還要經過反復討論,于是來自基輔的負責接被疏散者的公共汽車列隊等在普利皮亞特市的郊外吸著放射性物質。這些帶著放射性物質的公共汽車又將帶著放射性物質的乘客安置在被選中的鄉村農舍里,然后返回基輔繼續跑它們的常規公交路線。在隨后的兩個星期里,又有來自普利皮亞特市周邊三十公里范圍內的7萬5千人獲得重新安置。這方圓三十公里的區域就是著名的“禁區”,至今幾乎無人居住。

The Soviet system began to marshal its vast human resources to “liquidate” the disaster. Many efforts to stop the fire in the reactor only made matters worse by triggering new reactions or creating toxic smoke, but doing nothing was not an option. Pilots, soldiers, firefighters, and scientists volunteered, exposing themselves to huge doses of radiation. (Many others fled from the scene.) They were rewarded with cash bonuses, cars, and apartments, and some were made “Hero of the Soviet Union” or “Hero of Ukraine,” but many became invalids or didn’t live to see their new homes. The radiation levels were so high that they made the electronics in robots fail, so “biorobots”—people in makeshift lead protective gear—did the work of clearing the area.

蘇聯開始集結其最大的人力資源“清除”這場災難。雖然為了熄滅反應堆的大火人們所做的大量努力——比如依靠啟動新的反應堆或是制造有毒的煙霧——只是讓事態更嚴重,但是什么都不做是絕不行的。飛行員、士兵、消防員和科學家組成志愿者,將自身暴露在劑量巨大的核輻射中。(還是有許多人逃離現場。)他們被給予現金、汽車以及公寓的獎勵,還有一些人被授予“蘇聯英雄”或是“烏克蘭英雄”的稱號,不過他們中的許多人要么病了,要么沒有活著看見他們的新家。放射物等級已經高到足以損毀機器人內部的電子元件,因此“生物機器人”,即戴上臨時拼湊起來的鉛護具的人,承擔起了清理這一地區的工作。



A few decades later, it seemed to many that the world’s worst nuclear disaster had caused surprisingly little long-term damage. The official toll is now between thirty-one and fifty-four deaths from acute radiation poisoning (among plant workers and firefighters), doubled leukemia rates among those exposed to exceptionally high radiation levels during the disaster response, and several thousand cases of thyroid cancer—highly treatable, very rarely fatal—among children. Pripyat became a spooky tourist site. In the Exclusion Zone, one could soon see wolves, elk, lynx, brown bears, and birds of prey that had almost disappeared from the area before Chernobyl; some visitors described it as a kind of radioactive Eden, proof of nature’s resiliency. But striking differences in new books about Chernobyl by Kate Brown, Adam Higginbotham, and Serhii Plokhy show that there are still many ways to tell this story, and that the lessons of Chernobyl remain unresolved.

幾十年之后,這場地球上最嚴重的核災難對大多數人而言似乎沒有造成什么令人吃驚的長期危險。現在官方通報的死于急性輻射污染的(電廠工作人員和消防員)的人數在31到54人之間,因在災難發生時暴露在異常高的輻射等級中從而罹患白血病的人數翻了一番,還有數千名患有甲狀腺癌的兒童(除了極少數死亡,絕大部分治愈)。普利皮亞特市成了一個氣氛詭異的旅游景點。人們一進入禁區就會看見狼、麋鹿、猞猁、棕熊、以及切爾諾貝利核電廠出事之前就從該地區消失的鷙鳥;一些游客將這里描繪成有輻射的伊甸園,自然界自我恢復的證明。不過在凱特·布朗、亞當·希金巴特漢姆和塞里·普羅基寫的新書中切爾諾貝利卻異乎尋常的不同。書中顯示依然存在著許多種方式講述這個故事,以及切爾諾貝利遺留下來的還未被解決的教訓。

Both Plokhy and Higginbotham devote their first sections to dramatic reconstructions of the disaster at the plant. Sketches of loving family life or youthful ambition introduce the central figures, making us queasy with dread. The two authors’ minute-by-minute descriptions of the reactor meltdown and its aftermath are as gripping as any thriller and employ similar techniques: the moments of horrified realization, the heroic races against time. The prescient 1979 film The China Syndrome, about a barely averted disaster at a nuclear plant and its cover-up, is mentioned in both books. The movie’s title comes from a former Manhattan Project scientist’s hypothetical discussion of a reactor meltdown in North America causing fuel to burn its way through the globe to China. Though that specific scenario was clearly impossible, “China syndrome” became shorthand for anxieties about nuclear material burning through the foundations of the Chernobyl plant and entering the water table, the Dnieper River Basin, and then the Black Sea.

普羅基和希金巴特漢姆在第一部分中對發生在核電廠的這場災難進行了生動的復原。先是用白描的手法講述幾名主要人物可愛的家庭生活、或是年輕人的雄心壯志,不過這讓我們因擔心而焦慮不安。兩位作者又以分鐘為單位講述反應堆熔融以及由此產生的后果如恐怖小說一般吸引注意力,其實他們也運用了與恐怖小說相似的技巧:意識到爆炸那一刻的驚恐,以及具有英雄氣概的民族與時間對抗著。1979年曾上映了一部具有預見性的電影《中國綜合癥》,該片講述了一座核電廠勉勉強強防止了一場災難,然后對此百般遮掩。兩本書都提到了這部電影。該電影的標題來自參與前曼哈頓計劃的科學家們假想的一場討論:一座位于北美的反應堆熔融了,造成燃料燒穿地球抵達中國。雖然這樣的場景很明顯是不可能的,但是“中國綜合癥”卻成了一個概述對核物質燒穿切爾諾貝利核電廠的地基,進入含水層,再進入第聶伯河盆地,然后流入黑海的擔憂的縮略語。

Plokhy, a historian of Ukraine, provides a masterful account of how the USSR’s bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, and impossible economic targets produced the disaster and hindered the response to it. Though the Soviets held a show trial to pin responsibility on three plant employees, Plokhy makes plain the absurdity of holding individuals accountable for what was clearly a systemic failure. But Chernobyl could have been worse. The Dnieper River Basin was not contaminated, there was no second explosion, and long-term damage was mercifully limited; eventually the fire burned itself out, and the reactor was covered with a 400,000-ton concrete “sarcophagus.”

烏克蘭歷史學家普羅基精彩地描述了是蘇聯那機能失調的官僚、審查制度和不可能的經濟目標導致了這場災難,并阻礙了災后反應。雖然蘇聯裝腔作勢舉行了一場庭審,將責任歸咎于核電廠的三位雇員,但是普羅基明確指出這很明顯是整個系統的錯誤,卻讓幾個個體負責,很荒謬。雖然切爾諾貝利本來是會更糟的,但是第聶伯河盆地沒有被污染,沒有第二次爆炸,長期危險幸運地被限制住了;大火燒完一切最終自己熄滅了,反應堆被40萬噸水泥做成的石棺封住了。

The radioactive cloud may even have had a silver lining. Plokhy emphasizes Chernobyl’s role in the USSR’s final collapse and in the push for Ukrainian independence, as furious citizens worked to bring down the government responsible for the disaster, its cover-up, and the lethally inadequate response to it. For Plokhy, the greatest lesson of Chernobyl is the danger of authoritarianism. The secretive Soviet Union’s need to look invincible led it to conceal the many nuclear accidents that preceded Chernobyl, instead of using studies of them to improve safety. The memory of Stalin’s purges and the continuing threat of unjust punishment prevented plant workers and officials from reporting problems, while impossible Soviet quotas led plant employees to cut corners and ignore safety protocols. Once the reactor exploded, Soviet censorship kept citizens in the dark about the disaster, preventing them from taking measures to protect themselves.

含有放射性物質的云可能也會帶來一線光明。普羅基強調切爾諾貝利在蘇聯最后崩潰以及推動烏克蘭獨立中所占的分量:當憤怒的市民想讓政府對此次災難承擔責任時,政府的態度遮遮掩掩,對災難的回應也不合格,而這都是致命的。普羅基認為切爾諾貝利最大的教訓是威權主義。蘇聯總是一副諱莫如深的樣子,是因為它需要表現得不可戰勝,這就導致它隱瞞發生在切爾諾貝利之前的許多核事故,而不是研究它們以提高安全性。永不會從記憶中消失的斯大林時代的肅清運動,以及持續不斷地用不公正的懲罰為威脅,也阻止了核電廠工作人員及官員匯報問題,同時蘇聯分配的不可能實現的工作配額,讓電廠員工做事只圖省事從而忽略了安全規程。反應堆一旦爆炸,蘇聯的審查制度又讓市民對災難懵懂無知,阻礙了他們采取措施保護自己。



When the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the immediate effect was a huge single release of radiation. Radioactive fallout then drifted down from the sky, moving with the wind to distribute a smaller amount of radiation across a larger area. People who arrived in Hiroshima after the attack fell ill, including US soldiers helping to rebuild the city, and the Japanese press wrote about the longer-lasting effects of the “atomic poison.” This infuriated General Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, who could not countenance the possibility that the hugely expensive new weapon might be vilified and banned, as German mustard gas had been during and after World War I. Groves directed an effort to use censorship and propaganda to suppress information about the dangers of the radiation emitted by the atom bomb. The US did sponsor a “Life Span Study” of Japanese bomb survivors, which yielded valuable information. But it only started in 1950, too late for comprehensive results, and it only factored the initial blast, not fallout, into its estimates of radiation exposure. This meant that it excluded from consideration potentially radiation-induced health problems connected to lower doses of radiation, such as leukemia, thyroid cancer, diseases of the circulatory system, autoimmune disorders, eye diseases, and increased vulnerability to infection.

當美國向廣島和長崎投擲原子彈時,瞬間發生的不過一團巨大的放射物被釋放出來。但是放射性塵埃會慢慢從天空飄下來,也會隨風飄移將小部分放射性物質擴散到更大的區域。在爆炸發生之后抵達廣島的人會生病,這其中也包括協助重建這座城市的美國士兵。日本新聞也報道了這種被稱作“原子能污染”的長期后果。曼哈頓計劃的負責人萊斯利·格羅夫將軍對花巨大的成本研發出來的新武器,會像德國的芥子氣在一戰中及戰后的遭遇一樣遭到污蔑與禁用,感到憤怒。格羅夫直接訴諸于審查制度和宣傳機器,壓制有關原子彈噴發出的放射性物質具有危險性的信息。美國對日本原子彈幸存者發起了“跨越一生的研究”。這場研究提供了許多有用的信息。但是由于開始得太遲了(1950年才開始),所以研究結果也不全面,而且它在評估輻射接觸后果時只將最初的爆炸作為考慮因素,而忽略了輻射塵埃這個因素。這意味著與低劑量的輻射相關的健康問題,諸如白血病、甲狀腺癌、循環系統疾病、自身免疫系統疾病、眼疾、以及逐漸增加的感染易受性,被認為不可能是由輻射引起的。

In 1953 President Eisenhower announced “Atoms for Peace,” a program intended to use nuclear power for medicine and cheap electricity. Soon the cold war arms race was matched by the competitive construction of civilian nuclear reactors. The Soviet Union’s race to nuclear power, like its other industrialization drives, required the over-fulfillment of unrealistic quotas, often using substandard materials and undertrained personnel.

艾森豪威爾總統于1953年宣布實施“和平利用原子能”計劃。該計劃旨在利用原子能提供醫療服務和廉價電力。不久民用原子能反應堆的建設就追平了為冷戰的軍備競賽(建造的核武器)。就像其它驅動蘇聯工業化的力量一樣,蘇聯的核武器競賽也需要完成不可能完成的配額,所以經常讓未經培訓的人員使用不達標的核原料。

In the 1950s the Soviets developed the High Power Channel Reactor (RBMK). They also developed a much safer alternative model, the Water-Water Energy Reactor (VVER), similar to the Pressurized Water Reactors used in the US. But the RBMK won out because it generated twice as much energy as the VVER, was cheaper to build and run, and produced plutonium that could potentially be used in weapons—though it emitted far more radiation and had not been fully tested before operation began. The four reactors at the Chernobyl plant, opened between 1977 and 1983, were all RBMKs. They generated vast quantities of electricity not only for civilian use but also for the nearby Duga Radar system, which had been built to detect nuclear missiles. In 1985 the shoddily constructed Chernobyl plant managed to overfill its production quotas, in part by reducing the amount of time allotted to repairs.

蘇聯用二十世紀一整個50年代開發“高功率引導反應堆”(RBMK)。他們還開發了“雙水能量反應堆”(VVER)這種更安全的替代版本——這個有點類似于美國使用的增壓水反應堆。但是由于建造和運行RBMK更便宜,產生的能量又是VVER的兩倍,且最終的產品钚(盡管钚的輻射性更強,而且有不實際操作就無法檢測的特點)還是潛在的武器原料,所以RBMK勝出。切爾諾貝利核電廠的四個于1977年至1983年間啟動的核反應堆全部都是RBMK。這些反應堆產生的巨大電力不僅供民用,也供附近專門監測核導彈的杜佳雷達系統使用。1985年,粗制濫造的切爾諾貝利核電廠設法完成本來就超過其裝機容量的生產配額,而依靠的方法之一就是減少分配給停機維護的時間。

The Soviet Union had access only to the published results of the “Life Span Study.” But the rapid development of Soviet nuclear power, and the many accidents that accompanied it, provided extensive opportunities to examine the effects of radiation on the human body. By the time Dr. Angelina Guskova cared for Chernobyl responders, she had already treated more cases of radiation illness than anyone in the world. During years of work at a secret Siberian nuclear weapons installation where she was forbidden to ask her patients about the nature of their work, and thus about their radiation exposure, she learned to estimate radiation doses from victims’ symptoms, and she made substantial inroads in the treatment of radiation-related illness. She helped contribute to the Soviet definition of “chronic radiation syndrome,” which included malaise, sleep disorders, bleeding gums, and respiratory and digestive disorders. Guskova’s findings, like the many nuclear accidents that occurred in the Soviet Union in those years, were kept secret.

雖然蘇聯只拿到了“跨越一生的研究”的出版結果,但是其快速發展的核能以及與之相伴的事故,都為檢驗核輻射對人體的影響提供了大量的機會。到安吉麗娜·古斯科娃博士照料切爾諾貝利事故中的傷病員時,她已經是全世界治療核輻射病例最多的人了。在西伯利亞一個秘密的核武器軍事基地工作期間,她被禁止詢問病人的工作性質以及如何接觸到核輻射的。她學著通過病人的癥狀估計輻射劑量。在治療與輻射相關的疾病方面,她開拓出了大量的新領域。她協助定義了蘇聯的“慢性輻射綜合癥”。這種病包括萎靡不振、睡眠紊亂、牙齦出血以及呼吸及消化系統紊亂。像那些年發生在蘇聯的許多核事故一樣,古斯科娃的發現一直處于保密階段。



A 1990 assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meanwhile, was sabotaged by the KGB, which was so desperate to conceal sensitive information from foreigners that it stole a large registry of patient data kept on a single computer in Belarus. (It was never recovered.) According to Brown, the IAEA ended up producing inaccurate estimates of radiation exposure, in part because it grossly underestimated the use of contaminated local products by people living around the Zone—especially berries, mushrooms, and milk. The WHO and IAEA results hamstrung fundraising efforts for further Chernobyl studies, and for medical care and resettlement. Ukrainians and Belarusians were told that their health problems were caused by stress and “radiophobia” rather than by radiation itself.

國際原子能機構(IAEA)在1990年也進行了一次評估,但是遭到克格勃的蓄意破壞。克格勃不顧一切地隱藏敏感資料,甚至偷了保存在白俄羅斯一臺電腦中的病人掛號記錄。(這些記錄再也不可能恢復了。)布朗在書中寫到:IAEA最終對核輻射暴露作出了錯誤的評估,部分原因在于它極大地低估了生活在“禁區”周圍的人使用被核輻射污染的本地產品(尤其是漿果、蘑菇和牛奶)的情況。世界衛生組織和國際原子能機構得出的結論打擊了為更多的切爾諾貝利研究、為醫療救助以及重新安置籌款的努力。烏克蘭人及白俄羅斯人被告知他們的健康問題是因為壓力和“恐輻射癥”,而非核輻射本身造成的。

One of the most alarming—though also eerily beautiful—aspects of Brown’s book is her description of the way radioactive material moves through organisms, ecosystems, and human society. Of the infamous May Day parade held in Kiev just after the explosion, Brown writes:

布朗在其書中發出的最危險的(雖然也帶有令人恐怖的魅力)警告之一是帶有輻射性的物質借助有機物、生態系統和人類社會四處移動。對于爆炸剛剛結束不久就舉行的那場聲名狼藉的基輔“五·一”游行,布朗寫道:

The newsreels of the May holiday did not record the actions of two and a half million lungs, inhaling and exhaling, working like a giant organic filter. Half of the radioactive substances Kyivans inhaled their bodies retained. Plants and trees in the lovely, tree-lined city scrubbed the air of ionizing radiation. When the leaves fell later that autumn, they needed to be treated as radioactive waste.

“五·一”假日的新聞短片沒有記錄250萬具吸氣又吐氣、像一個巨大的有機過濾器那樣工作的肺的活動。基輔人吸進他們身體的放射性物質有一半留了下來。在這座綠樹成行的可愛城市里,每一株植物,每一棵樹都在刷洗飽含放射性離子的空氣。當那個秋天樹葉凋落時,需要用處理放射性廢物的方式處理它們。

Radioactive fallout was distributed far beyond the Exclusion Zone, which was, after all, just a circle on a map. Clouds absorbed radiation and then moved with the wind. Red Army pilots were dispatched to seed clouds with silver iodide so that radioactive rain would fall over provincial Belarus rather than urban Russia. Belarusian villagers fell ill, as did the pilots. Livestock absorbed radiation in the immediate aftermath of the disaster by inhaling air and dust, and later by consuming contaminated grass. Cleaned villages were soon recontaminated by radioactive dust from surrounding areas, and buried material leaked radioactivity into the water table.

放射性塵埃的分布區域遠遠超出那個只能在地圖上呈圓圈狀的“禁區”。云朵吸收放射性物質,然后被風吹走。紅軍的飛行員被派出去用碘化銀處理云層,為的就是讓含有輻射物質的雨禍害白俄羅斯省而不是俄羅斯城市。白俄羅斯農民和那些飛行員一樣生病了。爆炸之后立刻出現的后果是家畜因為吸入空氣和灰塵,然后是吃了受到污染的青草,吸進放射性物質。打掃干凈的村落很快就會因為來自周邊地區的放射性塵埃而再次被污染,被埋起來的放射性物質又會滲透進含水層。

A reluctance to waste food and other basic goods helped keep the radioactive isotopes in circulation. (Radioactive isotopes are unstable atoms that release dangerous particles until they decay into stable atoms of different elements. Although scientists can estimate the half-life of radioactive isotopes, the process of decay at the level of individual atoms is random.) Contaminated wood and peat were burned for fuel in homes and factories, releasing more radioactivity into the air. The State Committee of Industrial Agriculture had 50,000 animals rounded up and slaughtered during the evacuation from the Zone, and their radioactive wool, hides, and meat sent to different cities for processing. Brown’s findings in a Kiev archive led her to Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine, where workers at a wool factory requested the same benefits received by those who had been at the site of the reactor explosion. The workers had held the Chernobyl wool in their hands and inhaled its fibers. Soon their noses started to bleed, and they became dizzy, nauseous, and fatigued. Their managers pushed them to fulfill their quotas anyway. The authorities eventually made some efforts to clean the factory, but they weren’t willing to bury the highly radioactive wool. Instead, it was piled near the factory’s loading dock, waiting for its isotopes to decay. Wool accumulated for over a year, continuing to emit radiation. Meanwhile, the cleaning efforts caused radiation to be released into the surrounding environment along with the rest of the factory’s waste.

因為不愿意浪費食物和其它基礎物資,也讓放射性同位素傳播得更容易。(放射性同位素是一種不穩定的原子。只有衰退成穩定的其它原子,否則它們會一直釋放危險的微粒。雖然科學家們可以估計放射性同位素的半衰期,但是單個原子的衰退過程是隨機的。)家庭和工廠將受到污染的林木和泥炭當作燃料燒掉,向空氣中釋放更多的放射性物質。國家工農業委員會在“禁區”疏散期間圍捕并屠宰了5萬頭動物,并將含有放射性物質的羊毛、獸皮以及肉送往不同城市加工處理。布朗在基輔檔案館里的發現指引她來到烏克蘭北部城市切爾尼希夫。在該市的羊毛工廠里,工人要求得到與反應堆爆炸地點的工人相同的補助金。這些工人用他們的雙手握著來自切爾諾貝利的羊毛,吸入羊毛纖維。不久他們開始流鼻血、感到眩暈、作嘔及疲乏。但是管理人員依然強迫他們無論如何要完成工作定額。雖然當權者后來終于做了一些清潔工作,但是他們還是不愿意埋掉具有高放射性的羊毛。他們只是將羊毛堆在工廠附近的碼頭,等待羊毛上面的同位素衰退。那些一直在向外發射放射性物質的羊毛堆放了一年多。而同時清掃工作又將放射性物質連同工廠的其它垃圾一起釋放到周邊地區。



Paul Fusco/Magnum Photos

保羅·弗斯科/瑪格南圖片社

A mother holding a government document certifying that her daughter’s brain tumor was caused by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, Zamishevo, Russia, 1999

1999年,俄羅斯,Zamishevo。一位母親手持一紙文件證明她女兒的腦癌是由切爾諾貝利災難的核輻射造成的。

Moscow agronomists explained how to make sausage with an “acceptable” amount of radioactive meat, and Chernobyl sausages were distributed across the USSR without special labeling. There were instructions on how to salvage contaminated milk, berries, eggs, beets, grain, spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, and tea—often by converting them into products with long shelf lives and simply storing them until the isotopes decayed. This misguided thriftiness was not a uniquely Soviet or authoritarian practice. Chernobyl fallout had contaminated much of Europe. When Italy rejected 300,000 tons of radioactive Greek wheat, Greece refused to take it back; the European Economic Community eventually agreed to buy the wheat, which was blended with clean grain and sent to Africa and East Germany in aid shipments.

莫斯科的農學家講解如何用“可接受”數量的帶有放射性物質的肉制造香腸,然后這些切爾諾貝利香腸被不貼任何特殊標簽地送往蘇聯各地。還有課程教授如何回收利用被放射性物質污染的牛奶、漿果、雞蛋、甜菜、谷物、菠菜、馬鈴薯、蘑菇和茶葉。其實方法不過是將它們制成可長期保存的東西,然后儲存起來直到同位素衰退。這種錯誤的節儉并不獨見于蘇聯,也非只有威權政體才會采用。切爾諾貝利的放射塵埃也污染了大部分的歐洲。當意大利拒絕接受30萬噸受到放射性物質污染的希臘小麥時,希臘拒絕將小麥拖回。歐洲經濟共同體最終同意買下這批小麥,然后把它們摻進干凈的谷物中以援助的形式送往非洲和東德。

The difficulty of the cleanup was increased by the fact that the Chernobyl plant had been built in a marshy area, the worst possible type of land for a nuclear disaster. Mineral-poor soil soaked up radioactive minerals, which were then absorbed by mineral-hungry plants. Meanwhile, seasonal floods spread contaminants into pastureland. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, biologists who have been studying Zone ecology since 2000, have found that microbes, worms, spiders, bees, and fruit flies still cannot function normally in the Zone, or that they exist in far lower numbers than they did before the meltdown. This means that leaves do not decay at the normal rate, pollination does not occur often enough to produce the fruit that feeds some birds, birds don’t spread the seeds for new plants, and so on.

清除切爾諾貝利核電廠的污染物的困難之所以與日俱增是因為該電廠建在一塊沼澤地里。沼澤素來是發生核災難最糟糕的地形。缺乏礦物質的泥土大量吸收放射性礦物質,然后再被缺乏礦物質的植物吸收。與此同時,季節性的洪水又將污染物擴散到牧場。生物學家蒂姆·毛瑟和安德斯·莫勒自從2000年以來一直在研究“禁區”的生態。他們發現在“禁區”中的微生物、蠕蟲、蜘蛛、蜜蜂和果蠅依然無法正常發揮功能,或者換一種說法吧,它們的數量遠遠低于反應堆熔融之前的數量。這意味著樹葉無法以正常的速度腐爛,蜜蜂的授粉無法支撐生產足以喂養鳥的水果,于是鳥也無法將能長出新植物的種子撒播出去,如此等等。

Other researchers have issued a much sunnier picture of post-Chernobyl ecology, but Brown argues persuasively that they are grossly underestimating the scale of the damage, in part because they rely too heavily on simplistic measurements of radioactivity levels. Because radioactivity can move across so many environments and exposure to it can come in so many varieties, individual doses are hard to measure or even estimate, and a full understanding of radioactivity’s effects requires fine-grained observation at many levels over a long period. We don’t even fully understand the process of isotope decay. Biologists originally expected that the ecological half-life of cesium-137 would be only fifteen years; now researchers predict that it will take between 180 and 320 years for cesium-137 to disappear from the forests around Chernobyl, though they don’t yet know why.



Brown writes about anticipating outraged letters from nuclear scientists and plant workers, oncology clinic staff, and others whose jobs require exposure to radiation. She details her scrupulous efforts to check and double-check her data, consult with scientists from many fields, and account for factors that might skew results. I suspect that she may be accused of alarmism nonetheless.

布朗寫道:她預計會收到原子能科學家和核電廠工作人員、腫瘤學門診工作人員、以及其他需要接觸輻射的工作人員的抗議信,因此她一遍又一遍仔細地核對了她的數據,向許多領域的科學家咨詢,并對可能讓結果偏離的因素負責。盡管如此,我還是懷疑她有可能因為危言聳聽而遭起訴。

But we should be alarmed about the ongoing consequences of nuclear leaks and the risk of new nuclear disasters. Higginbotham points out that the United States now operates a hundred nuclear power reactors, including the one at Three Mile Island that suffered a serious accident in 1979, just twelve days after the release of The China Syndrome. France generates 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and China operates thirty-nine nuclear power plants and is building twenty more. Some people see nuclear power plants, which do not emit any carbon dioxide, as the most feasible way of limiting climate change, and new reactor models promise to be safer, more efficient, and less poisonous. But what if something goes wrong?

核泄漏的后果并沒有完結,再加上還有再次發生核災難的可能性,因此我們應當保持警醒。希金巴特漢姆指出,美國現在運行著一百座核能反應堆,這其中就包括曾于1979年《中國綜合癥》上映僅十二天便發生嚴重事故的三麥島核能反應堆。法國75%的電力由核電產生,中國也運行著三十九座核電廠并打算再建二十多座。一些人看核電廠只看到它們不會釋放二氧化碳,并將此看作限制氣候改變最可行的辦法。而且新模式的反應堆也保證更安全、更有效、產生的更少的有毒物質。但是如果萬一哪里出問題了呢?



Radiation has a special hold on our imagination: an invisible force out of science fiction, it can alter the very essence of our bodies, dissolve us from the inside out. But Manual for Survival asks a larger question about how humans will coexist with the ever-increasing quantities of toxins and pollutants that we introduce into our air, water, and soil. Brown’s careful mapping of the path isotopes take is highly relevant to other industrial toxins, and to plastic waste. When we put a substance into our environment, we have to understand that it will likely remain with us for a very long time, and that it may behave in ways we never anticipated. Chernobyl should not be seen as an isolated accident or as a unique disaster, Brown argues, but as an “exclamation point” that draws our attention to the new world we are creating.

我們一直對核輻射充滿特別的想象:它們是科幻小說中不可見的武器,它們能從本質上改變我們的身體,它們能從我們身體的內部溶解我們。但是《生存手冊》一書提出了一個更大的問題:人類將如何與我們自己釋放到空氣中、水中和泥土中的日益增長的有毒物質和污染物質共存。布朗認真地描繪了同位素擴散的路徑,發現它與其它工業有毒物質及塑料垃圾的擴散狀況高度相關。當我們往外扔一樣東西的時候,我們就必須理解這樣東西極有可能與我們共處很久,而且我們還無法預期這樣東西的運動方式。布朗指出切爾諾貝利不應該被看作是一個孤立的事故或罕見的災難,它應該被看成是一個吸引我們去注意那個正在被我們創造的新世界的“驚嘆號”。