CHERNOBYL 30 YEARS AFTER
On April 26, 1986 at 1:24 a.m. a disastrous event occurred, the worst technological catastrophe of the modern age, which blighted the lives of millions of people. That night reactor number four
of the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded. The explosion unleashed tons of radioactive dust into the air, where, transported by winds it contaminated both hemispheres of our planet,
settling wherever it rained. Almost the whole of Europe was fouled: 65 million people were contaminated. Belarus was the worst hit, with 30% of its territory rendered useless and it will take
millennia to recover. It is estimated that the most contaminated areas stretching over 260.000 square kilometers of land, (almost as large as Italy) will return to normal radioactive levels in
about one hundred thousand years time. Almost 30 years have gone by, so we have another ninety – nine thousand, nine hundred and seventy to go …
At the present time nine million people in Belarus, the Ukraine and western Russia continue living in areas with very high levels of radioactivity, consuming contaminated food and water. Eighty percent of the population of Belarus, Western Russia and North Ukraine suffers from various pathologies. After the Chernobyl disaster, in the contaminated areas there has been a huge increase in radiation-related tumours, malformations and various pathologies,
And there will be still more effects to come from the women who at the time of the disaster were under the age of six and are now starting to have children. Only now will we begin to understand the effects of genetic mutation on future generations.
After the Chernobyl nuclear accident an exclusion zone was created around the nuclear power plant, 30 kilometers radius. All the inhabitants of the area were evacuated. But the area that was supposed to be an exclusion zone has never been. There is life in the zone and today more than 8000 people are part of the community of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
4,000 people live in Chernobyl city. They are security officers of the zone and of the reactors still not decommissioned. They do shift working of 15 days in the area and then15 days of “decontamination” in their homes out of the exclusion zone. But they are not the only ones. Chernobyl looks like a normal town with the main services such as shops, cafes, a hotel for tourists, some canteens and a church with the priest celebrating the Mass.
To these 4,000 workers and inhabitants of Chernobyl, other 2,000 have been added in recent years. they are the workers involved in the construction of the new sarcophagus that will be completed in November 2017. Other 2,000 workers arrive each day from the nearby town of Slavutich, a service city of the exclusion zone, built after the Chernobyl accident.
But today, after 30 years which is the situation of the most dangerous nuclear reactors in the planet?
The sarcophagus of reactor number 4 is collapsing, so a new confinement is under construction. 2,000 workers are building the new sarcophagus to bury the reactor number 4. The company is a International - Ukrainian joint venture, and the new safe confinement is 110 meters high, 164 meters large and 257 meters long. It will be completed in November 2017 and will cost 1,5 billion euro. It is building close to reactor number four and the new confinement, after its completion, will be moved on rail tracks over the old sarcophagus and sealed. its duration is expected for a hundred years.
The reactors 1-2-3 continued to work till 2000 when they were shut down and 2,000 workers are involved in the safety of those reactors, until they can be dismantled. This will only be in 2065 when the levels of radioactivity in the core will be decreased and it will be possible to start the decommissioning works.
Today, after 30 years the condition of working are still very hard, because the levels of radiation, outside the reactors and also inside the buildings, are very high and pose serious health risks for the workers.
But other people are still living inside the zone, and from the beginning. At the time of the explosion, the inhabitants of the area were evacuated and transferred to the outskirts of Kiev. But some of them, about 1,200 people, decided that city life was not for them, too difficult to live in a big city with a meager pension and without the products of the land. And it was too strong the bond with their land.
After few months they returned to live in their homes, defying the ban of the Soviet government. They resisted and the government had to recognize them as residents of the exclusion zone. They had become what we now call the resettlers.
For 30 years they have resisted the government and radiation, because before they had weathered the second world war and hunger. They have decided to live in their homes, their land, to not forget their origins. They are the latest example of a peaceful resilience.
The last survivors are now octogenarians. Today there are only a few dozen, time and radiation took them away. With the last will end a culture, the culture of survival to Chernobyl. The few inhabited villages of the exclusion zone will disappear definitively and their homes and personal belongings that accompanied them throughout life will be swallowed up by vegetation and destroyed by time.
And which is the situation around the Chernobyl exclusion zone?
Radinka is an highly contaminated village located 300 meters from the border of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. 30 years after the worst nuclear disaster in history, Radinka is an example of what's around the Chernobyl exclusion zone, a highly contaminated area and inhabited, totally forgotten.
Today the population around the exclusion zone lives and dies with the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but nonone is interested in them.
Professor Bandazhevsky, the last four years has been studying the impact of the internal contamination on children living in Radinka and in the province of Ivankov.
The 80% of 3700 children examined, and who live in these lands bordering the exclusion zone, have heart rhythm disorders, directly related to the amount of cesium incorporated in their body. Besides, 30% of them have an internal contamination by cesium 137 over 50 Bq / kg, level in which they could develop any kind of disease.
Chernobyl, after 30 years, is only at the beginning of its story.