The Belarusian authorities have removed 211 cities and villages from the list of localities situated in radioactively contaminated areas, Serafima Kukina, a senior official of the emergency management ministry, told BelaPAN on Thursday.
The Council of Ministers amended the 2005 list by a directive issued on February 1. The document took effect 10 days later.
In 24 of the 211 localities nobody lives any longer, the remaining localities have been added to the "clean" zone, Ms. Kukina said.
The directive also changed the status of 355 localities, declaring them less contaminated because of the natural decay of radionuclides and dwindling effective doses to which residents are annually exposed on the average, Ms. Kukina said.
The new list features 2,402 localities where a total of 1,151,280 people resided as of January 1, 2009. Depending on contamination with cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-238, 239 and 240, the localities are divided into zones. As many as 1,904 localities with a total population of 1,030,845 people are in the Periodic Control Zone with contamination of one to five curies per square kilometer; 480 localities with 118,433 people are in the Optional Evacuation Zone (five to 15 curies per square kilometer); and 18 localities with a population of 2.202 people are in the Second-stage Evacuation Zone (15 to 40 curies per square kilometer).
Ms. Kukina said that exposure to radiation largely depends on the behavior and diet of each specific individual living in a Chernobyl-affected area. "If a person consumes wild berries and mushrooms gathered in radioactively contaminated forests, he is exposed to radiation," she said.