Today (April 26th) marks the 31st commemoration of the disastrous nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, originally located in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The atomic core exploded and then caught fire, burning for 9-days straight and spewing deadly amounts of radiation into the atmosphere over an area covering 58,000 square miles.
For those of us living in the United States, that area is larger than the whole State of New York. Now, its radioactive legacy is left to the Ukraine to manage for thousands of years while the world waits for the intense radioactivity to decay away. The USSR official government toll claimed that only 30 people died in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown, but the disasters full impact on the health of the area’s residents is much worse than authorities are willing to admit.
As many as one million people are projected to die from cancer and other radiation induced illnesses according to Dr. Alexy Yablakov, originally the science advisor to former Russian President/Premier Boris Yeltsin. Dr. Yablakov analyzed existing scientific data to make these projections; see his book entitled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, published by the New York Academy of Sciences. If you would like a copy, please contact us. We can put copies on special order.
Because most forms of cancer take years to develop after exposure to radiation and paired with uncooperative governments hindering scientific research, we may never know the full extent of Chernobyl’s carnage, but we do know that the damage is very high.
BELARUS. Novinki Asylum. A young helpless multiple sclerosis victim is carried by an attendant. Photo by Paul Fusco
Noted Magnum photographer Paul Fusco has created a haunting photo gallery entitled, Chernobyl Legacy, where you can see firsthand the disturbing human cost of Chernobyl. The children of the countries of the Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus have been the most severely impacted of all the former USSR countries by the ongoing Chernobyl radioactivity legacy. As emerging independent countries following the collapse of the USSR, these countries do not have the financial resources for medical care for children and families injured and made ill by the massive amounts of radioactivity released in the Chernobyl debacle. The Ukraine doesn’t even have the funds to feed many children and families uncontaminated food.
It is important to remember that not just humans were affected by the intense radiation emanating from Chernobyl. Research done by noted University of South Carolina biologist Dr. Timothy Mousseau and others have made the link between Chernobyl’s radiation and increased tumors, cataracts, and decreased brain size in birds that live within the exclusion zone. All living things, plants and animals, humans included, living in or near the exclusion zone have been negatively impacted in one way or another by the continuously unfolding tragedy of the atomic reactor meltdown at Chernobyl.
What human, animal, and biological impacts will we see during the coming years from the meltdown of the three Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power reactors in Japan? Will children in Japan develop Fukushima heart or some other unique radiation induced malady? Like the Soviets before them, government officials in Japan are trying to withhold the truth in their ongoing cover-up of the magnitude of the three meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi atomic power plant.
There have been five nuclear meltdowns during the last 35-years. Yet, with almost 400 reactors currently operating worldwide the atomic power industry only projected 1 meltdown every 2500 years. You can read about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, And Fukushima Dai-ichi on Fairewinds Energy Educations’ website www.fairewinds.org.