Chernobyl Day Report
Chernobyl Day – London Public meeting with Exhibition on Saturday 27th April at 2 -4 pm organised by Japanese Against Nuclear
“Fukushima” was not the only, not the first ‘level 7’ nuclear accident. On 26 April 1988, Chernobyl in Ukraine also had a disastrous nuclear accident. More than 100,000 residents had to evacuate. Japan may need to learn the lesson from Chernobyl in order to minimize the health damage of the people, and the UK may need to learn the lesson to avoid the accident before it happens.
Guest Speaker – Ms Tamara Krasitskava, Chairperson of Zemlyaki, Ukraine NGO in Kiev to represent those who had to collectively evacuate from Pripyat - with exhibition of pictures drawn by children of Chernobyl evacuees.
Ms Tamara Krasitskava with an interpreter said the following: Fukushima, Japan 9th March 20011 now has exactly the same problems as Chernobyl, Ukraine, Pripyat on 26th April 1986. Radiation has no smell - no touch - no feel - and it has squeezed all life out of their humanity over the last 27 years. Ms Krasitskava said that the people in her hometown of Pripyat were brought up with a ‘Super Power’ Nuclear Reactor that began work in1972. The Russian State told them that it was the most reliable and energy giving Nuclear Reactor and no problems would develop. Many people living in Pripyat were working on the Nuclear Reactor site and living in houses provided for them by the State. She said her small town ‘was buried’ in trees and flowers and they all loved living there – it was called ‘Town of the Roses.’
The accident happened on 1986 – fifteen years – after it had been built. 49,000 inhabitants lived there. At 1.23pm on 26th April – there had been a planned experiment at the Station – the fourth unit had to be repaired because of a design fault and staff had had no training. There were three explosions with the pressure between water and steam. One person died immediately and is still buried under the Reactor. The level of radiation was fatal, 1,000 people died with radiation affects. 600,000 people were dealing with the Nuclear Reactor. Seventy firemen participated with the fire and 31 one of them died. Other services helped out – it was such a shock – the Government were not sure what decisions they should make. They knew they had to deal with the radiation - but it was very dangerous. Days later the Russians announced it was the worst disaster in the World - 9 level radiation. Equivalent to 500 x the bombs that the USA dropped on Hiroshima during the War. Twenty six specialists from all over the country were called in to help advise.
The Russians didn’t reveal the true picture – the people in Pripyat carried on with their routine life and their husbands and brothers were still working at the Nuclear Power Station. On the 27th April, on the radio (not to create panic)the Government told the population of Pripyat to leave their houses, just taking their important documents and essentials with them - no pets. All the people and 120 boxes were moved to another small village 30 kilometres away. It was a strange time for the evacuees and they each had to be responsible for themselves. On 28th April, over the radio, the Government explained that radiation levels were high, all of Europe, was covered with a cloud. The Government tried to assure the evacuees, the 1st May March still carried on routinely. No further information came from the Government, then the evacuees drew up their own security measures.
Ms Krasitskava told us that the evacuees had learnt from their experiences over the last twenty seven years, but, the rest of the World had not learnt anything. She said that she had visited Fukushima, since the terrible earthquake and the three Nuclear Reactor meltdowns and had found the same mistakes repeated there. Governments not talking, 20 kilometre evacuation zones, no accommodation, people living in radiated areas and having to test their food and water. The only difference in Fukushima was that mobile phones and meters, to test food, were being used by the Japanese. The land in Fukushima is private, not public. The water was taken from the Ocean to cool the Nuclear Reactors. The water had been put in plastic barrels and they were damaged – people didn’t want to have these barrels of water on their property. The Japanese Government said that in seven years the evacuees would be able to return to their own properties, which is untrue. The problem will still be there, for very many years the whole planet is in danger because there is so much we don’t know.
Ms Krasitskava got to know the evacuees really well and realised that people who evacuated from Pripyat had lost all confidence in themselves as they tried to find their friends, relatives and cultural connections again. It was the radio that was used in Pripyat, and later when they were in Kiev to get evacuees together. She found they all needed help because they had lost beliefs in themselves. It has helped the victims in Pripyat to write their own stories and send them to the victims in Fukushima since the accident in 2011. There were 44,000 people evacuated to Kiev and there are now only 19,000 people still remaining.