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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 13:59 GMT
Ukraine police seize radioactive trees
A specialist measures the level of radioactive contamination near Chernobyl
The effects of Chernobyl are still being felt 16 years on
Police in Ukraine have impounded a number of radioactive Christmas trees, reports say.

The trees were said to have been cut down in an area contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

Officials seized the fir trees at local markets in the southern town of Rovno, where they were being sold for the upcoming Orthodox Christmas, Itar-Tass agency reported.

Chernobyl nuclear plant
The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl was the world's worst
After the region was covered by a radioactive cloud, a complete ban on the felling of trees in the contaminated forests surrounding Chernobyl was imposed.

Police said the local businessmen knew the trees from the Zhytomyr region were contaminated, and used forged documents to sell them.

The authorities are now trying to trace people who have already bought the trees.

The explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant was the world's worst nuclear accident.

It contaminated vast areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and sent a radioactive cloud across Europe.

Thousands of people are believed to have died from the effects of radiation.

And, according to a UN report, 16 years after disaster, thousands of people are still living in contaminated areas.

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