16 years is the age when people receive passports in Ukraine. Chernobyl tragedy reached the age of first human maturity. People who was born at that terrible night fall already in love. Though, the disaster has not retreated yet. Chernobyl as well as the whole neighbourhood are still radioactive. Half-value period of the most dangerous radioactive elements, according to the scientists, makes about 300 years. The tragedy took place at 1.24 (local time), April 26, 1986. At that time, in the fourth energy block of Chernobyl atomic power station, as a result of a series of thermal explosions, the reactor was destroyed and radioactive substances penetrated into environment. According to the experts, the total output of radioactive matters made 50 million curies, what is equal to 500 explosions of A-bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. 500,000 square km of Ukrainian territory was polluted. In the country, there are 3.2 million of the catastrophe’s victims, including about 1 million children. They have a higher level of breath organs and thyroid gland’s illness, than in average in Ukraine. Though, Chernobyl became dangerous for Ukraine not that year, when the tragedy happened, but when in the USSR RSMK-1000 reactor was constructed and four reactors of the kind were established in Chernobyl station. This model of reactor was built only in the USSR, and it was aimed for obtaining plutonium used in nuclear weapon, while electric power was only a kind of by-product. The reactor was designed for 30 years of exploitation. Moreover, technical peculiarities of its construction (which was not aimed for obtaining electric power) make it especially dangerous. The technology itself is risky. So, sooner or later the tragedy should have happened. Since the station was set going, everybody who worked there and population of neighbouring territories lived in everlasting danger. And this danger is still present, while at least one reactor of the king works. In the destroyed power block of the station, non-controlled chain reactions started. As a result, radioactive americium is being segregated, which penetrates into subsoil waters through cracks in the sarcophagus. The leadership of Chernobyl zone and of the Ministry of Fuel and Energy state there is no danger. Though… Dnepr River carries radionuclides over big territories, while Pripyat River is a spontaneous radioactive depository, Ukrainian academician Dmitry Grodzinsky supposes. The scientist states that slit of Pripyat and Dnepr rivers and of Kiev Sea are polluted with strontium. The leader of Chernobyl zone, Vladimir Kholosha supposes the academician’s statement to be without reason. According to him, Pripyat river’s water contains 10 times less nuclides than the norm, so it could be drunk. Vladimir Kholosha says that after 1996, protecting dams were build on Pripyat River and Kiev storage pool, so radionuclides settled in so-called bottom snares. While the destroyed reactor of the atomic station, according to the specialists, does not pollute environment. So, who is right? This question concerns now many people not only in Ukraine, but in Byelorussia and in Russia too. In 1986-1987, about 600,000 people participated in liquidation of the catastrophe’s consequences. 200,000 of them got higher dozes of radiation. Now, they need specialized medical assistance during the whole their lives. Of 3.2 million of people (including 942,000 children) who were subject of the tragedy, about 170,000 people died within 10 years, while more than 4,000 people died because of the Chernobyl tragedy’s consequences. About 3,000 of them are liquidators. April 26, at 1.24 (local time), at the Memorial burial mound of Chernobyl’s victims in Kiev, flowers were laid by leaders of the city administration. In the morning, the leadership of Ukraine laid flowers on the monument.
Alexandr Gorobets PRAVDA.RU Kiev Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/26/40389.html