Could the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker have a real-life cousin in a nuclear plant? Researchers are puzzling over a white, “cobweb-like” substance that was found on spent uranium rods at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina. The British tabloids are having a field day, with headlines like ‘Mutant’ spider fears at nuclear waste lab (at The Sun) and a rash of Spider-Man refereces. ABC News, on the other hand, talked to a real scientist:
“We observed it, it was unusual, it appears to be biological in nature but we don’t know that for sure,” said Will Callicott, the lab’s manager of executive communications. “It doesn’t seem to be doing any harm.”
The webs were found in the pools of water in which the spent fuel rods were submerged, but no one seems to have found an actual radioactive spider yet.
ABC News also interviewed Robert Baker of Texas Tech, who pointed out that wildlife flourished in the area around Russia’s Chernobyl nuclear plant after the accident there. The reason: The humans left, so the wildlife had the area to themselves. “They’re going to live a lot longer lives, because humans are worse for them than the radiation was,” Baker said.
Over at The Sun, their Spidey sense is tingling:
Experts say that any creature inside in the pools of water – which are intended to protect workers – would have been exposed to the nuclear fuel.
This raises the prospect of a creature having morphed into a new species of ‘extremophile’ after being exposed to uranium.