In the end such uptake by living organisms is the fate of all such radioactive contamination in the wild. That's why the greatest risk facing a site like Chernobyl is something as natural as a wildfire, similar to the ones that swept Russia and Ukraine this past summer. "One of the worst accidents Chernobyl could have at this point is a forest fire," Kehler notes. "All the radioactivity in the plants would then become airborne."
*Correction (4/29/11): This sentence was edited after posting to note that only noble gases escaped the reactor at Three Mile Island.