WBEZ | abandoned http://www.wbez.org/tags/abandoned Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Abandoned but no wasteland: Chernobyl offers animals room to thrive http://www.wbez.org/news/abandoned-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-thrive-113301 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/babyeagles.JPG" style="height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="Baby spotted eagles open wide for the camera in the Polessye State Radioecological Reserve in Belarus. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><p>When you think of a nuclear meltdown, a lifeless wasteland likely comes to mind &mdash; a barren environment of strewn ashes and desolation.</p><p>Yet nearly 30 years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, a very different reality has long since taken root.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elk.JPG" style="height: 371px; width: 560px;" title="A family of elk rove the forests. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></p><p>In and around Chernobyl, wildlife now teems in a landscape long abandoned by humans. The area has been largely vacant of human life since 31 people died in the catastrophe and cleanup.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s well-established that when you create large reserves and protect wildlife from everyday human activities, wildlife generally tend to thrive,&quot; says Jim Beasley, a researcher at the Warnell School of Forestry at the University of Georgia.</p><p>He and a team of fellow researchers embarked on a study of the Chernobyl exclusion zone &mdash; specifically, the sector that rests on the Belarusian side of the Ukraine-Belarus border.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/exclusion%20zone.JPG" style="height: 374px; width: 560px;" title="A house, long since abandoned and fallen into disrepair, stands in Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone. The area is still avoided by humans — but animals are thriving. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></p><p>They aimed to better understand how animal populations had been affected by the world&#39;s worst nuclear meltdown.</p><p>&quot;Our study specifically looked at mid- to large-size mammals,&quot; Beasley says, &quot;so everything from hare- or rabbit-sized animals, wild boar, moose &mdash; everything up to apex predators like wolves.&quot;</p><div id="res447251800" previewtitle="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/09/wild-boar-in-village-valeriy-yurko1_custom-8de868e23e7fc9398d437f168d0ab8ed7cc655fb-s300-c85.jpg" style="float: right; height: 257px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="A wild boar stands for an informal portrait against the backdrop of an abandoned village in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. (Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><div><p>They wanted to see just how resilient these mammals were &mdash; and their data came back with a clear pattern: populations have resisted decline, and in many cases even flourished.</p></div></div><p>&quot;None of our three hypotheses postulating radiation damage to large mammal populations at Chernobyl were supported by the empirical evidence,&quot; Beasley and his co-authors concluded in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)00988-4">paper they published</a>&nbsp;recently on the topic.</p><p>Now, that&#39;s not to say the animals themselves are healthy or not. Beasley is careful to note that their study did not look at particular health effects in the mammals. And, as for humans, Beasley cautions that we shouldn&#39;t get ahead of ourselves there, either. His findings have little to say about how safe the area is for humans to return.</p><p>&quot;Humans are much more long-lived than wild animals,&quot; he says. &quot;So I would be cautious to extrapolate those findings to humans.&quot;</p><p>But they did come to one clear conclusion.</p><p>&quot;What our study does suggest is that even if there are potential subtle genetic effects&quot; from the lingering radioactivity in the area, Beasley says, &quot;those effects are greatly overshadowed by the impacts humans have on the environment.&quot;</p><p>In other words, it may be a radioactive wasteland, still unsafe for humans, the simple fact of their absence has helped open the door for other mammals to flourish.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ponies.JPG" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="A herd of ponies in the brush. Researchers studying large mammals in the area around Chernobyl found robust population numbers. (Polessye State Radioecological Reserve)" /></div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/10/447202281/abandoned-but-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-to-thrive?ft=nprml&amp;f=447202281" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sat, 10 Oct 2015 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/abandoned-no-wasteland-chernobyl-offers-animals-room-thrive-113301 What ruins of a former Chicago steel mill say about our past and future http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-01/what-ruins-former-chicago-steel-mill-say-about-our-past-and-future-104692 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%209.23.07%20PM.png" style="height: 571px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">In a golden moment during the 20th Century, Chicago&#39;s Southeast Side made more steel than did all the mills of Great Britain. The old Acme Steel &amp; Coke site at 114th Street and Torrence Avenue is both evidence and a fading vestige of that past.</div><p>Acme&#39;s 100+ acre site awaits a future uncertain. The complex closed in 2001, almost a generation after larger and more prosperous competitors in the area shuttered. A movement to preserve Acme as a museum failed; the plant&#39;s assembly of blast furnaces, coke ovens, conveyors, lifts, pipes, chutes and other works were demolished and sold for scrap.</p><p>What&#39;s left is a solemn handful of spectacular industrial ruins scattered about Acme&#39;s vast, stilled grounds. Let&#39;s take a look around, beginning with the photo above in which a coke tower once connected to a battery of ovens stands against the open sky. A tumble of spent coal used in the coke-making process sits in the foreground.</p><p>Here is a westward view into Acme through the main gate:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%209.25.27%20PM.png" style="height: 341px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p>The photo below shows the base of a former quenching tower. The long-gone apparatus above would pour down water, cooling the newly-made coke. Now, graffiti artists have found a secret canvas inside the base&#39;s yawning concrete mouths:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%209.27.38%20PM.png" style="height: 798px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p>A twin column of chimneys spring up from the prairie:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%209.29.50%20PM.png" style="height: 662px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p>Here, a dilapidated guard&#39;s house&mdash;quaintly Germanic, with its brick base and half-timbered second floor&mdash;rots along Torrence Avenue:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-06%20at%209.31.48%20PM.png" style="height: 308px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div><p>The steel and iron churned out from this side of town became the skeletons that held up skyscrapers; the grid that supported roadways and bridges across the nation; the rails that criss-crossed the country and more. Such a heritage needs honoring.</p><p>Ships carrying this hard cargo kept city&#39;s port busy and railroads humming. The steel industry provided good, solid jobs for tens of thousands of working class folk. Food on the table. Money in the bank. An offering for the church. A Buick in the garage.</p><p>Is it all in the past? Mingling with the industrial ghosts at Acme Steel, it certainly seems so. Until you look at an aerial map. Transcontinental freight rail continues to pass through and near Acme and the former mill sites along Torrence between 95th and 130th streets. An active channel a few blocks east leads northward to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. Though aged and better-known for its golf course than for commerce, the Port of Chicago is still doing business at the nearby Lake Calumet.</p><p>The Southeast Side is still physically wired to the nation and linked to the world, even if age and neglect have weakened those connections. What can those vast acres so close to rail, water and expressways yield in the 21st century? A fresh and comprehensive look at the Southeast Side&mdash;done today and with global perspective&mdash;is in order. The city has a ton of economists, urban planners, bankers, world market experts and more than a few friends in Washington D.C. Something can be done.</p><p>The best way to honor this region and its contribution to Chicago and the nation is to rebuild it.</p></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-01/what-ruins-former-chicago-steel-mill-say-about-our-past-and-future-104692 Banks walk away from some foreclosures in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/abandoned/banks-walk-away-some-foreclosures-chicago <p><p>A new study says banks are choosing to walk away instead of completing some foreclosures, leaving buildings abandoned. <br /><br />The housing research group Woodstock Institute says it identified about 2,000 of these vacant homes in Chicago. Here&rsquo;s what happens &ndash; a homeowner stops paying, the bank servicing the loan files a foreclosure, the homeowner moves out, but then the bank decides it doesn&rsquo;t make financial sense to actually take ownership. Then the house sits empty. Geoff Smith of Woodstock Institute co-wrote the report. <br /><br />&quot;While that&rsquo;s all happening, the property takes away from the quality of life in the surrounding community, costs the city substantially and the servicer essentially walks away without any type of accountability,&quot; Smith said.<br /><br />Smith says it costs the city money to take legal possession, secure the house and then in many cases, demolish it. He says that could total about $36 million just for the vacant properties his institute identified. Smith says most of them are located in African-American communities already hard hit by the housing crisis. <br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abandoned/banks-walk-away-some-foreclosures-chicago