Remember Chernobyl 1986-2011–World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster
The world marks a quarter of a century since the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.
Ceremonies were held around the world on Tuesday 26 April to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. But haunted by a strange, eerie resonance and fears over the safety of atomic energy sparked by the Japanese earthquake -created troubles at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear.
The Japanese in placing the disaster on the maximum Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the same level as Chernobyl prompted further public fear with almost cosmic timing. reactor with the resulting radiation leak it is an event the world is unlikely to forget.
A service was held by Russian Orthodox, Patriarch Kirill, in the Keiv region in the early hours of Tuesday, striking a bell at 1:23 am – the time the explosion happened. This formally marked the start of the Remembrance Ceremonies.
The explosion sent a plume of radiation across Ukraine, Belarus, western Russia and other parts of Europe in 1986. Two workers died in the explosion and twenty eight other rescuers and staff died of radiation exposure in following months. Between 1986-1987 five thousand rescue workers (liquidators) were sent in to clear up the Chernobyl plant, and to decontaminate surrounding areas. Many were not fully aware of the scale of the disaster or the true risks of their exposure to such high levels of radiation.Hundreds received radiation injuries, while thousands of cases of child thyroid cancer in the region may be linked to Chernobyl. Tens of thousands were evacuated and fears still remain and the verdict is still inconclusive on the damage to human health.
For some mothers the memories of “bubbling and foaming” bright yellow puddles are still vivid, whilst children born years later are reminded by their cancer-ravaged bodies. In Belarus which received about 70% of the radioactive fallout thousands of children have been treated for cancers. The stricken Fukushima Daiichi has re-lit their fears and they are horrified. They have been through it and wish for no-one else to suffer in the same way.
He (Patriarch Krill) then went out to the affected zone to hold an Easter Service at a chapel in the Chernobyl settlement ,to which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made an unprecedented visit alongside Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to mark the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident.The two men attended a commemoration ceremony at the recently (December 2000) shut-down nuclear power station itself where a reactor exploded in 1986.
Mr Medvedev made his first visit to Chernobyl for Tuesday’s commemoration. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko did not take part in events at Chernobyl.
“The crisis at the Fukushima DaiIchi Plant reminded humankind that we shouldn’t relax” ~ Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
“The events of this day showed that nobody, no matter who they are, can be assured of their safety….and the recent events at Japan’s Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant only confirmed this bitter truth.” ~ Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukowich
Mr Yanukovych also stressed the need for global co-operation in nuclear safety, saying: "Chernobyl was a challenge of planetary dimensions. The answer to this challenge can be provided only by the world community." Soviet engineers encased the damaged reactor in a temporary concrete casing (sarcophagus) to limit the radiation but the existing sarcophagus is dilapidated and could leak. Or even worse collapse altogether triggering a large scale radiation release, consequently a new shield is now needed. A donor conference in Kiev, Ukraine, last week raised 550m euros (£486m; $798m) of the 740m euros needed to build a new shelter and a storage facility for spent fuel. The new containment shelter large enough to encase an area the size of “Madison Square Garden” and should be able to completely enclose the old casing and the Chernobyl Reactor 4 by 2015.
They also placed the first stone of a monument to clean-up workers and laid flowers at another monument. Officials unveiled a monument dedicated to victims from Belarus.
Mr Medvedev has called for new international rules covering safety at nuclear plants. Such rules would permit the "necessary" development of nuclear energy, he said.
"Today, I sent proposals to [world] leaders… aimed at guaranteeing the necessary development of nuclear energy in the world while preventing at the same time catastrophic global consequences [of accidents]," Mr Medvedev said in remarks as he stood in spring sunshine in front of the hulk of the disused plant, according to Reuters. He did not specify what the proposals were.
Soviet officials held off reporting the accident for several days, and Mr Medvedev said the disaster had taught nations of the importance of telling the truth to their people. "The duty of a state is to tell the truth to its people. It must be acknowledged that the [Soviet] state did not always behave correctly," he said." In order for such tragedies never to be repeated we must all be honest, we must provide absolutely exact information about what is going on."
The call for honesty was welcomed by some 3,000 Chernobyl victims who joined a memorial service at a monument in Kiev. They complain that benefits packages for workers made ill by participating in the clean-up have been cut in recent years.
The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima plant has triggered renewed protests over the safety of nuclear power.
The legacy of Chernobyl will be remembered for much, much longer than anyone would wish. According to estimates this area of Northern Ukraine will be uninhabitable for at the very least, decades, if not centuries.