Ukraine marks 30th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster

Ukraine marks 30th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster
April 26
12:10 2016

Ukraine has begun commemorations to mark the 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

The Chornobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred during a test on 26 April 1986 at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Pripyat in Ukraine.

Sirens were sounded at the same moment as the first explosion at the reactor, in the early hours of 26 April 1986.

The meltdown at the plant remains the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Chornobyl explosion is equivalent to 500 bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

50 mln. curie make the aggregate fall out of the radioactive substances

2,594,071 Ukrainians were affected by the Chornobyl catastrophe, 428,000 of them are children. 504,117 Ukrainians who were affected by the Chornobyl accident died in 1987-2004, among them 34,499 liquidators (disaster relief workers) and 6,769 children

48,400 sq. km territory and 2218 settlements in Ukraine have been contaminated by radiation

Ukrainian experts estimate the economic damage to the country at US $179 billion up to 2015

The Chornobyl Exclusion Zone covers 2,600 sq. km. 1 million cubic meters of radioactive substance are located at the interim storage facilities in the Exclusion Zone

An equivalent of $6 billion was spent to build the current sarcophagus over the 4th power-generating unit

$1.4 billion is the estimated cost of the new confinement (Shelter Implementation Plan) to turn the installation into an environmentally safe system. 40,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste have been stored at the Chornobyl NPS

4.4 million hectares of Ukraine’s forests were contaminated by radionuclides as a result of the accident at the Chornobyl NPS (40 percent of the country’s forested area). 5,000 tons of protective materials were thrown down into reactor from April 27 to May 10, 1986

Work began in 2010 on a 25,000-tonne, €2.1bn sarcophagus to seal the uranium left in the damaged reactor, thought to be about 200 tonnes.

Experts fear that if parts of the aging reactor collapse, further radioactive material could be spewed into the atmosphere.

The number of people killed by the disaster remains disputed. It is thought that about 30 people died in the initial meltdown and rescue operation, and a UN report published in 2005 estimated that up to 4,000 people could eventually be killed by related illnesses.

But Greenpeace has said the UN figure is a underestimate.

Chornobyl explosion was classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

Between 26 April and 5 May 1986, as a result of variable wind conditions, clouds of radioactive fallout were carried from Chornobyl first to Scandinavia, and then over Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, southern Germany and northern Italy. A third cloud finally reached the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Within these countries, the soil was contaminated to varying degrees.

In Sweden, in April 2001, the national radiation protection institute issued a warning against the consumption of reindeer meat and mushrooms, as the cesium levels they contain could still be in excess of the permitted limits.

The United Nations Development Program has launched in 2003 a specific project called the Chornjbyl Recovery and Development Program (CRDP) for the recovery of the affected areas. The program was initiated in February 2002 based on the recommendations in the report on Human Consequences of the Chornobyl Nuclear Accident. The main goal of the CRDP’s activities is supporting the Government of Ukraine in mitigating long-term social, economic, and ecological consequences of the Chornobyl catastrophe. CRDP works in the four most Chornobyl-affected areas in Ukraine: Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv and Rivne.

Only in the second phase of the Soviet Union’s Chornobyl policy, from 1989, the extent of the catastrophe gradually became clear to the international community. The starting point for international aid was the adoption in 1990 of UN Resolution 45/190 “International Cooperation to address and mitigate the consequences of the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant”. In view of the unprecedented magnitude of the catastrophe, the UN organizations: WHO, OCHA, UNICEF, FAO, UNDP, other international organizations such as the Red Cross, and all member states, were called on to help. An Inter-Agency Task Force on Chornobyl was established by the UN, and responsibility for coordination was assigned to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The aid projects of UN organizations are in future to focus on three key areas:

  • Tailored medical programs for the population groups most affected by the consequences of radiation (children, women, liquidators) in order to improve their health.
  • Regional economic aid, public health advice and psychological care, together with practical help in dealing with radioactive contamination, should give people control over their lives once more and make further resettlements unnecessary.
  • The UN wishes to improve coordination of its projects on the ground with the work of NGOs, to ensure that aid efforts are focused.

In addition, the world community has set up a new Chornobyl program. The international Chornobyl Forum was founded in February 2003. The main objective of this initiative was to collect and systemize data on the impact of the disaster and to work out a uniform approach to the appraisal of the consequences. Participants include the directly affected states as well as numerous international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Development Program.

The International Chornobyl Information Network was charged with surveying the population of the three primarily affected countries to establish their key problems and information requirements. Many of these activities received considerable financial, scientific and personnel support from individual governments (the U.S., Japan, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland) and the European Union.

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