Belarus is the country whose border is about 11.5 miles from the site of the infamous Chernobyl plant. In April of 1986, one of the reactors at Chernobyl suffered a steam explosion, releasing 25 to 50 million Curies of radiation. About 70 percent of the radioactive material released in the explosion fell out in Belarus. Most of the country suffers from some radioactive contamination, and about 25 percent is considered to be seriously affected. The Combustion Research Facility has been involved with the environmental restoration of Belarus by means of biomass power.
In August of 1995 Prof. Baxter, then with Sandia National Laboratories, met with the Belarusian Institute of Power Engineering Problems (IPEP) to discuss and analyze the use of biomass combustors to reclaim the land that was contaminated in the Chernobyl explosion. The Belarusian terrain mostly heavily forested area. Sandia is studying the potential of harvesting this flora and forest litter for use as fuel in biomass combustors. This would be an excellent source of power and would also concentrate the radionuclides in the combustor ash, which could then be disposed of as low-level radioactive wastes.