April 26, 2011

Chernobyl Remembered, 25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago today, the world's worst nuclear disaster took place at Chernobyl in Ukraine, leaving 30 people dead and many more exposed to radiation.

Workers at the Chernobyl atomic power station were carrying out a test on reactor four when operating errors and design flaws sparked explosions in the early hours of April 26, 1986.

Two workers were killed by the explosion and 28 other rescuers and staff died of radiation exposure in the following months. 

Moscow did not report the disaster to news agencies until April 28, when the Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden recorded unusually high radiation.

During 1986 and 1987, the Soviet government sent over a half a million rescue workers to clear up the power station and decontaminate the surrounding area.

"I think that our modern states must see the main lesson of what happened at Chernobyl and the most recent Japanese tragedy as the necessity to tell people the truth," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting of liquidators in the Kremlin on Monday.

"The world is so fragile and we are so connected that any attempts to hide the truth, to gloss over a situation, to make it more optimistic, will end with tragedy and cost the lives of people."

Several U.N. agencies said in a report in 2005 that 4,000 people could eventually die as a result of the radiation exposure from the Chernobyl disaster.

The devastating event that left the city of Pripyat abandoned has an estimated total cost of $235 billion in over 30 years.

A candlelit vigil will be held in Nottingham, Belarus on Tuesday to remember the nuclear disaster. 

David Winson, one of the organizers of the vigil, said the events at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has brought Chernobyl back into the forefront of people's minds.

"Many people had forgotten it," Winson told BBC.

"Many young people had never even heard of it, so Japan has brought it back into the limelight."


Image Caption: The abandoned city of Pripyat with Chernobyl plant in the distance. Credit: Jason Minshull/Wikipedia 


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