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Chernobyl 30 Years On

April 26, 2016
Public Health

People in the Ukraine will be marking the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster today (April 26th) with a series of events to commemorate the tragedy. In the early hours of April 26th 1986, an explosion at the plant which was then in Soviet controlled Ukraine, led to a release of radioactive material forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

The effects of the explosion were felt all over the world with restrictions on sheep movements imposed in the UK. Of the power plants six reactors, one was destroyed, two were abandoned but three continued to produce electricity, the last only being closed in 2000. One of the major radioactive pollutants was Caesium 137 which has a half-life of thirty years. Experts believe it will take a further 360 years for levels to drop to normal.

Areas of the Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are still contaminated, with communities in all three countries facing high rates of cancers, birth defects and other health conditions. Dr Rachel Furley who set up the charity Bridges to Belarus, in an attempt to provide treatment to local children said; “We have an awful lot of palliative cancers and tumours. Types which we don’t see anywhere else in the world.”

Up to 97% of the reactors radioactive contents have remained inside since the accident leading to a €1.5 million project to build a steel arch over the site in an attempt to prevent further leaks into the next century. The project was funded from donations from more than 40 governments.