Charnobyl disaster: 26 years on

The radiation effects of the April 26, 1986 reactor explosion were about 400 times more potent than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War, and nearly 14 times greater than the disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

The catastrophic nuclear accident occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Charnobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially Ukrainian SSR), which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow. At 01:23 a.m reactor Four suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions in its core. The explosions followed by fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe.

Though the nuclear power plant is located in the territory of Ukraine, 70 percent of the total radioactive fallout from the accident descended on nearly one-fourth of the territory of Belarus. The fallout affected more than 2.2 million people, including 500,000 children. 2,064,000 square kilometres of farmland were excluded from agricultural use.

According to the National Statistics Committee, on January 1, 2012, in Belarus, 2394 settlements were registered as a zone of radioactive contamination. This is 10.1% of all settlements of the country. There were 1 million 141.7 thousand people (12.1% of the population of Belarus) in the area of contamination, of which 788.1 thousand live in urban areas and 353.6 thousand people – in rural areas.

Some years ago a group of experts headed by Ivan Nikitchanka, a corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences, developed a new concept on the safe living in post-Chernobyl territories. The concept is grounded on the internationally recognized ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle, i.e. keeping radiation doses and releases of radioactive materials to the environment as low as can be achieved, based on technologic and economic considerations.

As present-day standards keeping leads to people’s being exposed to radiation, Professor Nikitchanka offered the Belarusian authorities to abandon safe limits of radionuclides content in foods. Ivan Nikitchanka adressed the corresponding proposal to Aliaksandr Lukashenka, but there has still been no reply.

In December, 2010 Professor Ivan Nikitchanka tragically died.

This year the Minsk City Executive Committee has granted permission to hold a traditional demonstration to mark the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on April 26, 2012 in Minsk. Its participants are to gather in the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences at 6 p.m. and then march along Surhanava Street to Peoples’ Friendship Park in Bangalore Square for a final one-hour mourning rally, which is to begin at 7:30 p.m. In the end flower-laying to the Chernobyl chapel located not far from the park is to take place.

«Charnobylski Shlyakh» organizers intended to demand to abolish building of Asravets nuclear power station in the course of the demonstration. In addition to the ecological problem, other issues of importance are about to be brought up, i.e. the release of the political prisoners, etc.


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