UNFORGETTABLE: CHERNOBYL DISASTER

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31 YEARS AFTER…

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“We were told that we had to win. Against whom? The atom? Physics? The universe? Victory is not an event for us, but a process.”
―Svetlana Alexievich,

Voices from Chernobyl:

The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster 

 

Politicians are supposed to be diplomats but many of them are hardcore and non-skilled for the smooth moods of the national and international communities. They talk to each others like they do not represent civilized countries and people but monsters chained in cage. At the end of the day, people have governments what they deserve. At the end of the day, we are not better or worse than our barbaric representatives that abuse vocabulary that they will never understand. Nuclear energy, nuclear weapons and nuclear chaos. It is devastating that they threat to one another with use of nuclear arsenal like it is a decision if the children will play with water bombs or toys. How it is possible that they forgot what does it mean asking an atom for help or letting atom decide about the future of our Planet?

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I am lost in my memories, sailing back to 1986. It was a spring day when I was playing with my pets in garden, enjoying the fresh air as any other 4-year-old child in the Balkan area. Suddenly, I experienced something very strange that I couldn’t have clear to myself. Yoo young to understand why the grass is crawling into my feet, like it is alive.Even the wind was a bit unfriendly. Then my mother came to me and told me I have to go to my room because it is not good to be outside. I remember that she was talking with my grandmother about some nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine…I didn’t catch the meaning. At that moment, Ukraine and nuclear disaster were a whole new world for me, but the world that will change ours forever.

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On April 26, 1986, the nuclear explosion occurred  at the Chernobyl nuclear power station and released radioactive gas 10 times bigger as one related to the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was so strong and powerful that dust has got into the wind that brought it into the central and southern Europe. There were around 50 people who died in the incident but numerous of those who have been affected by the exposure to radiation and who have paid the price in the long period of time, losing their health. According to historical reports, that was one of the worst disasters ever. That day has changed the lives of all. Those who have been located in the “Nuclear Exclusion Zone”, about 350,000 people have been forced to evacuate because the area was only 19-miles away from the burning plant. The small town Pripyat in Ukraine has been abandoned and it is known as empty and ghost town for 31 years now.

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Around 350,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in the “Nuclear Exclusion Zone,” the area in a 19-mile radius around the plant. The town hardest hit was Pripyat, Ukraine — it was quickly abandoned and remains empty to this day. But, the curiosity of people is not erased. Many tourists from all over the globe want to visit this exclusive nuclear area and to feel the sense of that catastrophe, to get the vibration of the horror and to increase the global demand for dark tourism.

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The main question is: what is happening now in Chernobyl? The brave photographers and scientists have never really given up on hunting the haunted town. It is beyond the imaginable what has happened there and how the nature recovers itself without any external and human distraction. The researchers have observed that the wildlife is blooming in spite of disfigured environments. The animals and plants are adjusted themselves to the new ecosystem conditions and they live in new habitat, free from people. That is fascinating for the science and National Geographic writes:”It may seem strange that Chernobyl, an area known for the deadliest nuclear accident in history, could become a refuge for all kinds of animals—from moose, deer, beaver, and owls to more exotic species like brown bear, lynx, and wolves—but that is exactly what Shkvyria and some other scientists think has happened. Without people hunting them or ruining their habitat, the thinking goes, wildlife is thriving despite high radiation levels.”

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The worst nuclear cataclysm ever has destroyed the human chances for existence there for many years but has empowered the potential of animals that have been tortured and hunted by people.Nature has made a compromise. There were some tabloids that have claimed that in the area around the Chernobyl have been seen mutated people and strange new species. That is a typical cheap media gossip inspired with brainless writing of some of so called  experts for nuclear explosions. It is absolutely  true that deposition of Cesium-137 on the ground has had an influence on the targeted  biology and ecology but it doesn’t happen so easy and in one line process  like the Hollywood production is always trying to describe in its ignorant movies. Unfortunately, the cases of humans that they are disfigured  are the part of the nuclear story.

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This place breathed before an accident and it still breathes. There aren’t humans but the habitat is not silent. The signs of flora and fauna are everywhere. Pripyat is definitely the ghost-town for people but not for all other species and one columnist has stated for the USA TODAY:“Before the disaster, it had more than 13,000 apartments, schools for 5,000 children, two dozen stores and cafes, a cinema, sports hall, cultural center, several factories and a hospital. It had 18,136 trees; 249,247 shrubs; and 33,000 rose bushes, according to the website Pripyat in Numbers.After all the people left, Pripyat for years was a snapshot of a planned Soviet town frozen in time: 16-story residential apartment buildings filled with well-preserved posters, toys and stopped clocks; portraits and statues of Vladimir Lenin; a ghostly amusement park slated to open May 1, 1986, for the annual May Day celebrations, that never got the chance. A place teeming with embodiments of the hammer and sickle, the symbol of Soviet power.”

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This small nuclear town has been frozen in time and the people have been disappeared. The atomic wave kissed this region without any resistance and changed our perspective of power for all times. We are talking about the wasteland that is waking up in last years and offering a new dimension and a new vision. In small villages in the Nuclear Exclusion Zone, there are old people that came back to live on their land and to pretend that the blast has never been there, around 187 such returnees Their hope is so strong, we can almost touch it and feel it. It is contagious, stubborn like radiation. For others, they are settlers although they know they are local residents. They rely on farming, fishing and hunting but that is not always so welcomed by the authorities who believe that this area must be  protected and marked as the important nature reserve. This is alarming also because of the return of many exotic animals and as well as poachers who keep hunting them for profit.

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The heart of town of Chernobyl is ten miles south from the exploded power station. It is also in the move because it is turned into the campus for three thousand workers, researchers and policemen that control, study and maintain the area, informing about the progress and offering the data from the ground. Thanks to those individuals, the world is being regularly updated that the level of radiation is decreased and that the danger is not so high as it used to be 30 years ago.  The outcome of this catastrophe are still coming on the road. The cancer is flowering as well as the new  disordered genetic material. Nevertheless, it is not so often and it seems that human organism is adjusting to the demands from the modified habitat. If some generations are created within the radioactive range,  there is a possibility that some of them  have been  given immunity on the radiative effects. It maybe  means that their children will be fully protected and that human genetic mode will be made based on the  new systemic protection.

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The disasters like Chernobyl are showing the human vulnerability and imperfection but also the human strength and fight to overcome the darkness and find shelter again in light. We are capable to do so many great things and to destroy them all in one second, because of egoism, greed or madness. We must learn to respect our progress and not to use it against ourselves.

DO NOT FORGET CHERNOBYL, DO NOT FORGET ANY OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO DIED THERE AND THOSE WHOSE LIFE HAS BEEN FOREVER CHANGED!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “UNFORGETTABLE: CHERNOBYL DISASTER”

  1. Sarah’s very poignant and evocative article brought back several melancholic memories to my mind, concerning my relatives in England: as Sarah’s article exclaims, various regions of both Eastern Europe and Western Europe were affected by the shifting winds, etc., that conveyed radioactive material from the explosion in Chernobyl. My English grandmother and an aunty both stated that they felt their skin being afflicted with a painful heat, for more than a day. My aunty died in 1998 from a cancerous disease, and the radioactive impact may have enhanced or stimulated the cancer she perished from (she was only 42).

    It was not until 2012 that the British government ceased mandatory radioactive testing for livestock in The United Kingdom. This covered about 700 farms, in all.

    Mr Emlyn Roberts (one of hundreds), a sheep farmer in northern Wales, had to call in the government livestock inspectors with their Geiger counters, before market day. They scanned the animals for signs of radiation, because the land they grazed upon was still contaminated from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. If the radiation levels were too high, the lambs were not sold.

    When the restrictions were established, British farmers were told they could apply for only a few weeks; months at most. Many farmers had to accept that their land would be afflicted for decades. Immediately after the accident in Chernobyl, almost 9,000 British farms were placed under restrictions. Now, 100% of the land has been cleared (i.e. officially), but this took longer in specific areas.

    Though, the British government itself has a terrible reputation concerning atomic weapons testing and civil nuclear power incidents. For example, in 1957, the worst nuclear accident (i.e. so far) in Britain occurred in Windscale, Cumbria, northern England. A fire broke out in the facility and burned for three days. There was a release of radioactive contamination that spread across Britain and Europe. Of particular concern at the time was the radioactive isotope iodine-131, which may lead to cancer of the thyroid, and it has been estimated that the incident caused 240 additional cancer cases in Britain. No one was evacuated from the surrounding area, but there was a worry that milk might be dangerously contaminated. Milk from about 500 km2 of nearby countryside was diluted and destroyed for about a month.

    A more recent incident occurred in Sellafield, also in Cumbria, in 2005: 20 tonnes of uranium and 160 kg of plutonium leaked from a cracked pipe at the Thorp nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.

    British nuclear weapons tests at Maralinga, South Australia, occurred between 1956 and 1963, at the Maralinga site, part of the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia and about 800 km north-west of Adelaide (I was born in 1969, 500 km south of Adelaide). A total of seven nuclear tests were conducted; including hydrogen bomb tests. The site was contaminated with radioactive materials and an initial clean-up was attempted in 1967. The McClelland Royal Commission, an examination of the effects of the tests, delivered its report in 1985, and found that significant radiation hazards still existed at many of the Maralinga test areas. It recommended another clean-up, which was completed in 2000, at a cost equivalent to US$100 million ($400 million in 2017). Debate continued over the safety of the site and the long-term health effects on the traditional aboriginal owners of the land and former personnel. In 1994, the Australian government paid compensation amounting to US$12 million ($40 million in 2017) to the local Maralinga Tjarutja people.

    The Maralinga tests were subject to extreme secrecy, but by the late-1970s there was a marked change in how the Australian media covered the British nuclear tests. Some journalists investigated the subject and political scrutiny became more intense. Despite the governments of Australia and Britain paying for two decontamination programmes, concerns have been expressed that some areas of the Maralinga test sites are still contaminated…

    Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), Director of The Los Alamos Laboratory’s atomic weapons R & D, remarked that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…’ After World War II, he became Chairman of the influential General Advisory Committee of the newly created US-Atomic Energy Commission. He used that position to lobby for international control of nuclear power to avert nuclear proliferation and a nuclear arms race with The Soviet Union. After provoking the ire of many US-politicians with his outspoken opinions during The Second Red Scare, he suffered the revocation of his security clearance in a much-publicized hearing in 1954, and was effectively stripped of his direct political influence: he continued to lecture, write and work in physics, nevertheless… He was diagnosed with throat cancer in late-1965, and, after inconclusive surgery, underwent unsuccessful radiation treatment and chemotherapy, but died in 1967. Rather ironic to be devoured by the beast he helped to create.

    Aptly, Sarah ends her article thus ‘We must learn to respect our progress and not to use it against ourselves…’

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  2. Thank you, dear Sarah, for a very touching article. We are as humans are created weak and made of inordinate haste. Out of weakness, we get very creative making beautiful, amazing, and powerful things that help us live a better life. With the same token, and out of our greed and selfishness, we intend to rush and take the wrong step in life, destroying all the great things we have made. I fully agree with you dear Sarah that we must learn to respect our progress, be careful when we advance to the next level of progress, and not to allow it to go against us.

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  3. What an excellent article, Sarah ! Your article is very educational and very interesting !

    It is amazing how exotic animals, as well as other animals, were able to live there despite all the dire predictions ! It is so sad and deplorable, however, that “humans” are hunting them ! It just seems that “humans” think that everything on the face of this planet is theirs and that they can do whatever they want without any consequences !

    It may turned out to be that those animals, even though they can survive in that environment, despite the radiations, harbor certain genetic defects or diseases as a result of the high levels of radiations left in the area !

    In that case, the “humans” who are eating those animals may develop deadly diseases. This is remindful of your last article about Ebola, where people think they can eat all sorts of animals with impunity ! Not so, says nature !

    Further, “humans” don’t seem to learn from their own mistakes, as another nuclear disaster took place in Fukushima, Japan on March 11, 2011 at the heels of a major earthquake !

    Again, “humans” are mainly driven by selfishness and greed !

    Thank you, Sarah, for all your extensive and invaluable research !

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