AUR#689 Bells Ring, Candles Lit, Tears Fall, Mourners March, Memories Stirred, Liquidators Remembered 20 Years After Chornobyl Nuclear Tragedy

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ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR
An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World

CHORNOBYL +20 – PART IV

APRIL 26, 1986 – APRIL 26, 2006
20th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster
(Chornobyl +20 – Part I, AUR#685, Friday, April 07, 2006)
(Chornobyl +20 – Part II, AUR#687, Monday, April 24, 2006)
(Chornobyl +20 – Part III, AUR#688, Tuesday, April 25, 2006)
BELLS RING, CANDLES LIT, TEARS FALL,
MOURNERS MARCH, MEMORIES STIRRED
LIQUIDATOR’S REMEMBERED

ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 689
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C., WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2006

——- INDEX OF ARTICLES ——–
Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.
Return to the Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article

1. 20 YEARS LATER, UKRAINE, A COUNTRY OF 47 MILLION, TRIES
TO MAKE SENSE OF CHORNOBYL TRAGEDY
Associated Press, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2. HAUNTING VIGILS MARK 20 YEARS SINCE CHERNOBYL DISASTER
Agence France-Presse, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wed, April 26, 2006

3. MOURNERS, CANDLES MARK CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY
Reuters, Slavutych, Ukraine, Wednesday April 26, 2006

4. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL BLAST
President Yushchenko joined mourners at the night-time vigil
BBC News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

5. U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH STATEMENT ON THE 20TH
ANNIVERSARY OF CHORNOBYL DISASTER
Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 25, 2006

6. US HELSINKI COMMISSION CONVENES HEARINGS ON CHORNOBYL
Embassy of Ukraine to the USA, Washington, D.C. Tue, April 25, 2006

7. CHERNOBYL EXPLODED USSR
By Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8. COULD CHERNOBYL HAPPEN AGAIN?
Jim Heintz, Associated Press Writer, Moscow, Russia, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

9. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY
Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

10. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tue, April 25 2006

11. FIRST AT CHERNOBYL, BURNING STILL
By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
New York, New York, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

12. CHERNOBYL’S DEATH TOLL
LEAD EDITORIAL: Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22 2006

13. HELL ON EARTH:
CHERNOBYL WAS WORLD’S WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER

Twenty years on, John Vidal reports on the clean-up, the false medical records,
the communities that refused to leave and the continuing cost to people &planet
John Vidal, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 26, 2006

14. UKRAINE PRES URGES INTL AID FOR CHERNOBYL-HIT REGION
Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 24, 2006

15. CHERNOBYL: 20 YEARS, NO END IN SIGHT TO THE SUFFERING
John Vidal and Mark Milner, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

16. CANADA TO GIVE $8MILLION CANADIAN DOLLARS MORE
FOR BUILDING CHERNOBYL REACTOR SHELTOR
Associated Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tue, April 25, 2006 .

17. CHERNOBYL: THE GERMANY SYNDROME
COMMENTARY: Essay By Michael Miersch
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

19. DECLARED DEAD AFTER CHERNOBYL, NUCLEAR LIVES AGAIN
FEATURE ARTICLE: By Jeremy Lovell
Reuters News Service, London, UK, Friday, April 21, 2006

20. COMMEMORATION OF THE CHERNOBYL DISASTER:
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE TWENTY YEARS LATER
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 – 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.
The Kennen Institute, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

21. 20th ANNIVERSARY CHORNOBYL COMMEMORATION
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AND REQUIEM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7 PM, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Group, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

22. CHORNOBYL: THE NEXT GENERATION
Conference, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, April 29, 2006, 9 a.m.
Chornobyl: The Next Generation” Coalition, Chicago, Illinois, April 2006

23. LEGACY OF THE CHORNOBYL DISASTER, TWENTY YEARS ON
Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)
Australia, Thursday, April 20, 2006

24. UKRAINE’S CHERNOBYL PLANT STAFF MOURN COLLEAGUES
By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, 21 Apr 2006

25. BELARUS SCIENTIST JAILED FOR CRITICISING HANDLING
OF CHERNOBYL DISASTER ARRIVES IN FRANCE
Agence France-Presse, Gmtylon, France, Saturday, 22 April 2006
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1
. 20 YEARS LATER, UKRAINE, A COUNTRY OF 47 MILLION, TRIES
TO MAKE SENSE OF CHORNOBYL TRAGEDY

Associated Press, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian mourners carried single red carnations and
flickering candles during a solemn ceremony early Wednesday to remember
the 1986 Chornobyl explosion, an event that continues to scar the country 20
years later.

The April 26, 1986, pre-dawn explosion became the world’s worst-ever nuclear
accident, ripping off the nuclear power plant’s roof and spewing radioactive
fallout for 10 days over one million square kilometres of the Soviet Union
and Europe. It cast a radioactive shadow over the health of millions of
people; many believe it also contributed to the eventual collapse of the
Soviet Union.

“My friends were dying under my eyes,” said Konstantyn Sokolov, a
68-year-old former Chornobyl worker whose voice was hoarse from
throat and lip cancer.

Sokolov was among hundreds gathering for a middle-of-the-night ceremony
Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital, which President Viktor Yushchenko
attended. Sokolov said his memories of that time “are very terrible.”

In Kyiv, bells tolled 20 times starting at 1:23 a.m. local time, marking the
time of the explosion at Reactor No. 4 at the Chornobyl nuclear power
station. Orthodox priests led the mourners in a somber procession.

Closer to Chornobyl in Slavutych – the town built to house Chornobyl workers
displaced in the accident – the commemorations began an hour earlier to
coincide with Moscow time, which was used in Ukraine at the time of the
accident. Residents laid flowers and placed candles at a monument dedicated
to Chornobyl as sirens blared.

Death tolls connected to the blast remain hotly debated, as do the long-term
health effects.

At least 31 people died as a direct result of trying to keep the fire from
spreading to the plant’s three other operating reactors. One plant worker
was killed instantly and his body has never been recovered. Twenty-nine
rescuers, firefighters and plant workers died later from radiation poisoning
and burns and another person died of an apparent heart attack

Mykola Malyshev, now 66, was working in the control room of Chornobyl’s
Reactor No. 1 at the time of the explosion. He said the lights went off and
on and the room shook. The workers were ordered to the destroyed reactor
but hen they arrived, their co-workers ordered them to flee and save
themselves. “They told us: ‘We are already dead. Go away,”‘ Malyshev
recalled at the Kyiv ceremony.

Thousands have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, one of the only
internationally accepted illnesses linked to Chornobyl, and the UN. health
agency said about 9,300 people were likely to die of cancers caused by
radiation.

Some groups, however, including Greenpeace, have warned death tolls could be
10 times higher and accused the UN of whitewashing the long-term effects of
the accident in order to restore trust in the safety of atomic power.

Around 350,000 people were evacuated forever from their homes, leaving the
whole city of Pripyat and dozens of villages to decay and rot away. Experts
said some may not be habitable again for centuries.

Some five million people live in areas covered by the radioactive fallout,
in Ukraine, neighbouring Belarus and Russia.

Valentyna Abramovych, now 50, her husband and their infant son were forced
to evacuate their home in the Chornobyl workers’ city Pripyat, leaving
behind all their belongings. They were shuffled around, first to a nearby
village, then to a relative’s house.

“Every day, I would watch television and expect to hear when we could come
back,” Valentyna Abramovych said. “When they said we could never come back,
I burst into tears. We feel like outcasts. No one needs us.”

Ukraine hosted competing scientific conferences Tuesday as the country of 47
million tried to make sense of the catastrophe.
Some Ukrainians, however, sought out more private places to remember.

“The whole country grieves and the whole world joins us in this grief,” Lena
Makarova, 27, said as she visited the Chornobyl museum in Kyiv.
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2. HAUNTING VIGILS MARK 20 YEARS SINCE CHERNOBYL DISASTER

Agence France-Presse, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wed, April 26, 2006

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine – Haunting night-time vigils marked the 20th anniversary
of the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident that shocked
the globe, ravaged this corner of eastern Europe and affects millions of
people to this day.

Clutching candles and carnations, hundreds of people silently poured into
the central square of the Ukrainian town of Slavutich, built 50 kilometers
(31 miles) to the east of the defunct nuclear power station to house its
staff and others evacuated following the accident.

A shrieking siren pierced the silence around the time that two explosions
ripped through reactor number four at the Soviet-designed plant on April 26,
1986, releasing a huge radioactive cloud into the air.

Somber-faced, many with tears in their eyes, the crowd made their way toward
a monument honoring the 30 people who died in the first year after the
accident that became a grim symbol of the hazards of atomic energy.

“I knew all of these people,” Mykola Ryabushkin said, pointing to the
portraits hanging on the monument. The 59-year-old was an operator at the
station and was working the night of the explosion that bathed the station
in an otherworldly bluish light.

“I look at them and I want to ask them for forgiveness,” he said, tears
rolling down his cheeks. “Maybe we’re all to blame for letting this accident
happen.”

The cloud released by the Chernobyl explosion settled mostly in Ukraine and
neighboring Belarus to the north, but parts of it drifted across Russia and
a large swathe of Europe, and its effects were felt from Scandinavia to
Greece.

The impact was made worse by the fact that the then Soviet authorities
concealed the extent of what had happened for several days and did not begin
to evacuate people from the area until more than a day and half later.

“The explosion affected half of the planet, but Belarus and Ukraine suffered
worst of all,” Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said
in a statement on Tuesday. “For these countries, Chernobyl is not an
historic event, it is a problem of today and of tomorrow,” Davis said.

At an eerie ceremony in front of the concrete sarcophagus covering the
destroyed reactor, with a dozen journalists their only audience, a French
theater troupe recounted stories of a handful of ordinary people who found
their lives torn apart by the disaster. “We are playing for the dead,” Bruno
Boussagol, the producer and artistic director of the Brut de Beton troupe,
told AFP.

Some five million people are believed to have been affected by the disaster
in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, all of which still have regions where the
levels of dangerous cesium-137 and strontium-90 radioisotopes are much
higher than accepted norms.

Millions of acres of agricultural and forest land remain contaminated from
the accident.

Two decades on, the death toll from the tragedy is hotly debated. Agencies
of the United Nations, backed by the governments of Belarus, Russia and
Ukraine, estimate that between 4,000 and 9,000 people could be expected to
die overall as a direct consequence of the accident. Environmental groups
put the figure at 100,000 and higher.

The UN has estimated that the disaster will end up costing hundreds of
billions of dollars. The Chernobyl plant was eventually closed for good in
December 2000 but will continue to be a concern for years to come.

The concrete sarcophagus that was hastily constructed over its destroyed
reactor immediately following the accident is showing signs of wear and more
than 20 countries have chipped in nearly a billion dollars for the
construction of a 20,000-ton steel case to take its place.

Construction of the new containment unit is expected to begin later this
year and Ukraine hopes to complete it by 2010. -30-
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3. MOURNERS, CANDLES MARK CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY

Reuters, Slavutych, Ukraine, Wednesday April 26, 2006

SLAVUTYCH, Ukraine – Mourners bearing candles marked the 20th
anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on Wednesday, honoring
those who died as leaders pledged to ensure it would never happen again.

Hundreds of people, each bearing a candle and some with red carnations,
filed slowly through the streets of Slavutych, the town built to house the
Chernobyl plant’s workers after the world’s worst nuclear accident on April
26, 1986.

At 1:23 a.m. Moscow time (5:23 p.m. EDT) — about the time of the explosion
and subsequent fire that sent radiation billowing throughout Europe — a
minute of silence was declared. A bell tolled and alarm sirens blared. A
middle-aged man, tears welling in his eyes, shook his head in disbelief as
he stood alongside younger mourners.

Well after midnight, in Kiev, 80 km (50 miles) to the south, President
Viktor Yushchenko stood alongside other dignitaries by the “Chernobyl
church,” where survivors gather every year, and placed a large bouquet of
roses at a memorial marked by two stone slabs on a knoll.

The memorial bears the names of the “liquidators,” the firefighters and
engineers who died trying to extinguish the blaze or later from excessive
doses of radiation.

The blast in Chernobyl’s fourth reactor — during an unexplained
experiment — contaminated large swaths of territory in Ukraine, Belarus and
Russia. Soviet authorities took two days to inform the world and their own
people. They then launched feverish clean-up and reconstruction efforts
culminating in construction of a shelter to house the wrecked reactor.

The Slavutych procession moved to a memorial, with mourners placing candles
at the foot of a wall bearing images graved in stone of the “liquidators.”
VARYING DEATH TOLLS
Estimates of the death toll linked to Chernobyl vary widely. The World
Health Organization puts at 9,000 the number of people expected to die due
to radiation exposure, while the environmental group Greenpeace predicts an
eventual death toll of 93,000.

Hundreds of thousands were evacuated. The United Nations says 7 million
still live on land with unsafe radiation levels.

Yushchenko, due to visit the 30-km (19-mile) “exclusion zone” around
Chernobyl later in the day, appealed before the anniversary for financial
help in building a new “sarcophagus” to replace the leaking original
containment structure.

International figures said the main lesson was to adopt a common approach to
nuclear safety.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which
helped investigate the accident, called for closer cooperation,
“particularly at a time when we are witnessing an expansion of nuclear power
to meet increasing energy demands in many parts of the world.”

President Bush paid tribute to “lives lost and communities hurt in the
devastation” and said Washington was committed to efforts “to improve the
safety and security of Chernobyl by confining its nuclear reactor.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, decorating “liquidators” in Moscow,
promised to look into setting up a treatment center for people suffering the
ill-effects of exposure to large doses of radiation. “These people who
worked there did not think of themselves, they understood that the disaster
had to be stopped, whatever the cost,” Putin told them.

Yushchenko told officials assessing the effects of Chernobyl on Monday that
a new conference of donors was needed to complete the “tomb” project
launched in the 1990s. Ukraine, which spent up to 10 percent of its budget
on the post-Chernobyl cleanup, cannot afford to take on the project alone.
It has a price tag of $800 million to $1.4 billion.

Experts see construction of a new “sarcophagus” as part of a plan to
decommission the station, which stopped producing electricity in 2000 at the
insistence of the international community but still contains some 200 tonnes
of nuclear fuel. (Additional reporting by Mikhail Yelchev in Kiev)
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4. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL BLAST
President Yushchenko joined mourners at the night-time vigil

BBC News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

KYIV – Ukraine is holding a series of events to commemorate the 20th
anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power
plant.

The blast was marked by tolling bells and a minute’s silence at 0123 local
time (2223 GMT on Tuesday) – when the alarm was set off on 26 April 1986.
The explosion tore off the plant’s roof, spewing radioactive fallout over
swathes of the then-USSR and Europe.

President Viktor Yushchenko will visit the site later in the day. He will
meet some of the people who worked at the plant and those who risked their
lives to deal with the accident.

A monument to victims is due to be unveiled, and the country’s parliament is
holding a special hearing into the disaster.

In neighbouring Belarus, also badly affected by fallout, opposition groups
are expected to hold a rally in the capital Minsk to protest against
government attempts to rehabilitate contaminated areas.
‘ASK FOR FORGIVENESS’
At evening ceremonies, hundreds of mourners, each carrying a single red
carnation and flickering candles, gathered for the outdoor Orthodox
Christian service at the church in Kiev.

President Yushchenko laid a wreath to remember those who were sent to deal
with the accident and to the many who have since been affected.

At precisely 0123, the church bells tolled 20 times. A similar ceremony got
under way an hour earlier, to coincide with 0123 Moscow time, in Slavutych,
the town built to house the Chernobyl plant workers displaced by the
accident.

To the sound of bells tolling and alarm sirens blaring, mourners laid
flowers and candles at a monument dedicated to those who died in the
immediate aftermath of the accident.

“I knew all of these people,” a tearful Mykola Ryabushkin told the AFP news
agency, pointing to the portraits hanging on the monument. The 59-year-old
had been working as an operator at the plant when the explosion happened.

“I look at them and I want to ask them for forgiveness,” he said. “Maybe
we’re all to blame for letting this accident happen.”
DISPUTED DEATH TOLL
The accident happened at one of four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant, 110km (70 miles) north of the capital, Kiev.

Throughout most of the following day the Soviet authorities refused to
admit anything out of the ordinary had occurred.

It was only two weeks after the explosion, when radiation releases had
tailed off, that the first Soviet official gave a frank account, speaking of
the “possibility of a catastrophe”.

Official UN figures predicted up to 9,000 Chernobyl-related cancer deaths.
But a Greenpeace report released last week estimated a figure of 93,000.
Greenpeace said other illnesses could bring the toll up to 200,000.

A restricted area with a radius of 30km (19 miles) remains in force around
the destroyed nuclear reactor which is encased in concrete.
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LINK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4944898.stm
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5. U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH STATEMENT ON THE 20TH
ANNIVERSARY OF CHORNOBYL DISASTER

Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, I join my fellow
Americans in expressing our deepest condolences for this tragedy. Today, we
remember the victims of this horrible accident and recognize those who still
suffer great hardship in its aftermath.

By closing Chornobyl more than 5 years ago, a free Ukraine removed an
environmental threat built by an oppressive government, created the
circumstances for a safer and more prosperous region, and acted with
courage in the march of democracy.

I appreciate the people around the world who continue to show their
compassion for those still suffering in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and I
reaffirm America’s commitment to the ongoing effort to improve the safety
and security of Chornobyl by confining its nuclear reactor.

On this solemn anniversary, we pay tribute to the lives lost and the
communities hurt in the devastation following the disaster at Chornobyl. We
are encouraged as the people of Ukraine and neighboring regions resolve to
rise again and reclaim a future of hope and dignity.

May God bless you!
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LINK: http://kiev.usembassy.gov/infocentral_eng.html
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6. US HELSINKI COMMISSION CONVENES HEARINGS ON CHORNOBYL

Embassy of Ukraine to the USA, Washington, D.C. Tue, April 25, 2006

WASHINGTON – On April 25 the US Helsinki commission held a hearing
“The Legacy of Chornobyl: Health and Safety 20 years later”.

The Commission invited to testify Dr. Oleh Shamshur, Ambassador of Ukraine
to the United States, Stephen G. Rademaker, Acting Assistant Secretary of
State in charge of international security and nonproliferation, David
Marples, Professor of History, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies,
University of Alberta Pablo Rubinstein, Director of the National Cord Blood
Program New York Blood Center, and Kathleen Ryan, Executive Director of
Chernobyl Children’s Project International.

Congressman Chris Smith called Chornobyl in his opening statement one of the
biggest catastrophes of the modern times and urged international bodies to
fulfill their commitments as to the assistance to those who suffered from
its aftermath.

Congressman Benjamin Cardin joined his colleague in expressions of hope that
Chornobyl-awareness won’t wear thin since the consequences of the accident
are and will be palpable for decades to come.

Representative from the State Department focused on US Administration
assistance programs to Ukraine aimed at mitigating the consequences of the
Chornobyl accident.

Ambassador Shamshur appealed to the concrete facts illustrating the enormous
losses Ukraine suffered from Chornobyl and focused on the problems which
might emerge in the near future. He emphasized the urgent necessity to
finalize preparations for creation of the new Sarcophagus around the erupted
reactor #4, the work needs to commence by 2007.

The invited scientists testified about health repercussions for the
population of affected areas and about concrete aid the US is able to render
Ukraine in this regard.

The Ambassador engaged in the questions and answers session responding on
various aspects of international co-operation on Chornobyl and current needs
of Ukraine in the nuclear energy sector.
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7. CHERNOBYL EXPLODED USSR

By Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The world media will mark with many publications the 20th anniversary of
the Chernobyl disaster (April 26, 1986). This is only natural since this is
a truly tragic date, and the aftermath of this drama is still affecting the
lives of many people.

Radioactive dust settled down not only on the territory of the former
U.S.S.R., but also in Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and some other countries. Only France,
Spain and southern Italy were fortunate thanks to the prevailing winds.

Many publications on Chernobyl justifiably focus on the safety of atomic
power engineering. Nobody wants its repetition. In many countries Chernobyl
slowed down the advance of atomic power engineering, deteriorated the world
energy crisis, and caused a boost of prices on energy carriers.

It is alarming, though, that quite a few publications on Chernobyl are
undisguised stove piping reflecting the struggle for the market of nuclear
technologies. For some rivals, the Chernobyl tragedy is just an excuse to
tell the potential buyers that Russian nuclear technologies are unreliable.

The timing and purpose are awkward, and, besides, this is simply untrue.

As we know, failure teaches success. As distinct from most of its rivals,
the Russians have thoroughly studied the bitter experience and greatly
contributed to the safety of nuclear reactors. They have focused on making
nuclear plants foolproof, since it was the human factor which triggered off
the Chernobyl tragedy.

Today, the most regrettable aspect of Chernobyl is that the West shows
practically no interest in this unique Russian experience – either in enhancing
the safety of nuclear plants, or in dealing with emergencies.

Associates of the Kurchatov Institute, Russia’s center of nuclear science,
have complained many times that their foreign colleagues are ignoring what
they have done in the twenty years of incessant research on the Chernobyl
reactor. This is, of course, regrettable. Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, the
head of the Kurchatov Institute Research Center, had every reason to say:”
The Russian nuclear physicists have learnt by heart the lessons of
Chernobyl once and for all.”

To sum up, the only positive aspect of the tragedy is the practical
experience and ensuing precious recommendations, but foreign experts took
no interest in them. Meanwhile, they know only too well that many Western
countries have been through most dangerous accidents, which could trigger
off even worse tragedies. The list is so long that I won’t quote it here,
but the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland are all there. Those who are well versed
in the subject know perfectly well that Russian nuclear technologies are
the safest of all. Everything else is just commercial tat. The only
difference is that it’s not about Pepsi.

There is one more consequence of the Chernobyl disaster, which is rarely
mentioned. I think it was Chernobyl that exploded the U.S.S.R. Needless to
say, the reasons for the disintegration of such a colossus were bound to be
multiple. Some people say with good reason that the founders of Marxism
programmed the elements of self-destruction into the Soviet Union’s policy
and economy.

Others justifiably quote the arms race or Afghanistan, which also undermined
the Soviet might. Still others blame the then leaders of Russia, Ukraine and
Belarus for signing a document in secret from President Gorbachev in
Belovezhskaya Pushcha. They believe, not without a reason, that this
document finished the U.S.S.R off.

However, I still think that Chernobyl was one of the major factors behind
the Soviet collapse. The tragedy was not just about radioactive
contamination. It produced a huge pack of lies, which shocked the Soviet
people. The authorities concealed from them the truth for several days.

In blissful ignorance, children and adults were walking under the genial
spring rain in Kiev and Minsk, eating fruit, fishing, going to Ukrainian
and Byelorussian resorts.
If they had known the truth, they would have been running away. When
rumors finally got through, people panicked. They rushed to railroad
stations and drug stores. Only the first semi-truthful official reports
outlined the enormous scale of the catastrophe.

Importantly, the liars were the Party reformers whom many people had
trusted when they said that the Soviet system could be reformed. After this
lie there was nobody to believe. So, when a report on the Soviet Union’s
demise came from Belovezhskaya Pushcha, nobody tried to resuscitate it.

The lie proved to be as deadly as radiation. -30-
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8. COULD CHERNOBYL HAPPEN AGAIN?

Jim Heintz, Associated Press Writer, Moscow, Russia, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

MOSCOW – The Chernobyl plant sits idle 20 years after the world’s worst
nuclear accident, its last reactor taken out of service some six years ago.
But a dozen other reactors of the same design remain in operation and some
could be in service for another 30 years. Could another one blow up?

The explosion of April 26, 1986, is attributed by experts to a fatal
combination of design flaws and poor staff training. The design problems
have been addressed, but doubt remains about the human factor.

The accident was a terrible irony, coming during a routine drill to test how
long the electricity-generating turbines would spin and supply power during
a shutdown.
But reactors of the RBMK type used at Chernobyl have a “positive void
coefficient” in which excess steam, which absorbs neutrons less effectively
than water, leads to an increase in reactor power. RBMKs are considered
unstable at low power.

Automatic shutdown systems had been switched off for the test, and workers
couldn’t insert control rods in time once they started losing control of the
reactor, according to generally accepted accounts of the blast. Since then,
the RBMK reactors in Russia and Lithuania have undergone modifications
recommended by the

International Atomic Energy Agency including speeding up the control-rod
insertion time by about a third, to 12 seconds, and using uranium of a
slightly higher enrichment in the core, which essentially means the reactor
doesn’t have to be driven as hard to spin the turbines.

Nuclear experts say the changes have substantially reduced the technical
likelihood of a repeat of the Chernobyl blast. “Very significant changes
have been made in the technology,” IAEA deputy director Tomihiro Taniguchi
told The Associated Press. “The IAEA is firmly committed that such an
accident not happen again.”

“People are fairly relaxed about the RBMKs,” said Ian Hore-Lacey, a
spokesman for the World Nuclear Organization, which promotes peaceful uses
of nuclear energy.

John Ahearne, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief who now
teaches at Duke University, agreed with the technical assessment, but was
less sure about staff at plants using RBMKs. “How well are they trained, how
well are they paid – that’s harder to assess,” he said.

Vladimir Chuprov, head of energy issues at the Russian branch of the
Greenpeace environmental watchdog group, said work conditions are as
important as the technology – and more worrisome. Reactors can be
modernized, he said, but “the majority of nuclear accidents are connected
not with technology, but with the human factor.”

A study by Greenpeace and the Russian Academy of Sciences found many nuclear
workers in Russia showing up for work drunk or on drugs, Chuprov said. At
the Leningradsky plant in northern Russia, pay is so poor that some workers
have to moonlight as taxi drivers, he said.

Yuri Sarayev, a nuclear expert at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences,
said pay hasn’t kept up with the country’s booming economy, so “specialists
with solid training and 10-15 years experience are leaving, and being
replaced by less-prepared people.”

Russian officials insist the RBMK reactors’ future is bright and their
service life will be extended from 30 to 45 years, with the last to close in
2036. That confidence isn’t universally shared. Lithuania, a former Soviet
republic, has already mothballed one RBMK at its Ignalina plant and is to
shut the other in 2009.

Can a Chernobyl-type disaster happen again?

Nikolai Tarakanov, a scientist and retired general who heads the Center for
Social Support of Chernobyl’s Invalids, replies: “No one can give you a
guarantee that it will not happen tomorrow.” -30-
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9. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY

Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

The extent of the genetic damage caused by radiation can be seen in the
suffering of children throughout the region, writes Kathy Sheridan in
Chernobyl, in the second of a three-part series

Vyacheslav Klimovich is the director of what Belarussians call a “children’s
mental asylum”, a place that, to many volunteers working for Adi Roche’s
Chernobyl charity, resonates with both horror and triumph. The radical
renovation work, teacher training and modern equipment funded by the
Children of Chernobyl Project International (CCPI) are slowly turning
Vesnovo into a bright, enlightened haven.

But for The Irish Times, on a tight schedule, it’s fair to admit that it is
no more than a stop on the long road between Minsk and Chernobyl, and the
interview with the director no more than a courtesy call.

Then a casual question elicits the information that the dignified Klimovich
was once a physics teacher. He knows enough about what lies in the soil
around highly contaminated Vetka, his wife’s birthplace, and around Gomel,
their subsequent home in southern Belarus, to fear it.

He has a son aged 13, a child with no particular disease, he says slowly,
“but he hasn’t good health either. He is very weak and gets tired very
quickly. He runs temperatures for no reason. We try to give him clean food
and vitamins . . .”

Klimovich is so fearful of radiation that the couple have decided not to
have a second child.

According to many Belarussian doctors and ordinary families to whom we talk,
his description of his son’s health and reasons for having an only child
could apply to nearly every family in the Gomel region.

Klimovich’s case is not dramatic, and his son’s unexplained lethargy and
temperature spikes will not feature in any statistic. But it’s one reason
why an eastern European cry of rage greeted last September’s Chernobyl Forum
report from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World
Health Organisation (WHO).

It stated that only 50 deaths could be directly attributed to the disaster,
that 4,000 at most would eventually die from it and that the majority of
illnesses among the estimated five million contaminated in the former Soviet
Union are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles.

Dr Michael Repacholi, manager of the WHO Radiation Programme, is quoted in
the summary: “The sum total of the Chernobyl Forum is a reassuring message.”

Another series of reports, however, are on the way, according to the
Guardian newspaper, which will tell a radically different story. These are
also from leading scientists and doctors and take into account 50 published
scientific studies in estimates from researchers commissioned by European
parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International, and medical foundations in
Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere.

The forthcoming estimates will suggest that at least 30,000 people are
expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe radiation exposure in
1986 and that up to 500,000 may have already died in Ukraine alone.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s National Commission for Radiation Protection
says: “We have found that infant mortality increased 20 to 30 per cent
because of chronic exposure after the accident. All this information has
been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year
and again in June. They’ve not said why they haven’t accepted it.”

The IAEA report has attracted much criticism for its tendency to concentrate
on numbers of deaths while virtually ignoring the incidence of morbidity,
such as chronic illness and the ongoing suffering of those who have managed
to survive life-threatening disease.

For example, the report states that nine children have died from thyroid
cancer and that 4,000 have been found to be affected, but notes that the
survival rate is around 99 per cent. The livid “Belarus necklace”, the scar
which marks such victims for life, and their lifelong dependence on
medication, rates no mention.

AE Okeanov, head of the cancer registry in Belarus for many years and now
working at the Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology
Research in Minsk, published work in the Swiss Medical Weekly in 2004,
showing that cancerous “affections” (women undergoing mastectomies, for
example) had increased by about 52 per cent in the Gomel region.

The rate for the whole of Belarus was up by 40 per cent. His study also
showed that the peak incidence rates of breast cancer had shifted to younger
women between 45 and 49 years of age.

IN THE RIVNE region of Ukraine, 310 miles west of Chernobyl, doctors are
also reporting an unusual rate of cancers and mutations.

“In the 30 hospitals of our region we find that up to 30 per cent of people
who were in highly radiated areas have physical disorders, including heart
and blood diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases,” says Alexander
Vewremchuk, of the Special Hospital for the Radiological Protection of the
Population in Vilne. “Nearly one in three of all the newborn babies have
deformities, mostly internal.”

In Belarus, Dr Vyacheslav Izhakovsky, the chief doctor at the Gomel Regional
Children’s Hospital, which treats 12,000 children a year, says that,
factoring in the plummeting birthrate, the hospital has seen the rate of
genetic damage in newborns increase by 16 times since 1985.

“We’re at a time when women who were aged between one and three in 1986 are
giving birth . . . No more than 16 to 17 per cent of all newborn babies are
completely healthy,” he says. “The cause behind 60 per cent of these is the
mother’s sickness during pregnancy.

Twenty years after Chernobyl, you have to take into consideration
radiological problems. I and many doctors believe that 50 per cent of
illness is rooted in ecological problems. But we can’t prove it because we
have no time to do research. I can tell you though, that the problems are
only starting . . .”

Dr Irina Kolmanovich, the pediatrician who runs the newborns’ intensive
care unit, points to several babies with genetic problems. They include
eight- month-old Vlad, who was born with damage to his muscle and nervous
system. He can still move his legs and hands but no one is prepared to give
a prognosis. Vlad lies opposite three-year-old Masha, who was born with a
similar condition and mobility, but has been deteriorating steadily during
her short life.

Vlad’s mother is in the bracket of girls who were aged between one and three
in 1986.

“It’s all genetic,” says Dr Kolmanovich, “You can read it when the damage is
ecological.”

In Gomel, in particular, people like Vyacheslav Klimovich drew their own
conclusions by not risking a second child. Quite apart from a “demographic
doomsday” being discussed by some researchers, the result can be unspeakably
tragic. Lena Pogorelova, a math teacher in Gomel, took the “risk” of having
a child five years ago.

She had always worried about what is called the “Chernobyl effect” and had
heard about the low number of healthy newborns. She gave birth to Diana, now
aged five, who seemed normal but slowly manifested enough symptoms to fill
three handwritten pages, the main ones of which are cerebral palsy, a heart
defect, eye problems and anaemia.

Diana is now confined to a special chair, is subject to terrifying
convulsions and seizures, and is almost impossible to calm at any time. The
only saviours for Pogorelova are her mother-in-law, who acts as carer while
Pogorelova goes to work, and the hospice nurses of the CCPI.

Pogorelova’s husband, a plasterer, finds work where he can, in a region
where jobs are scarce, so Pogorelova’s income is vital. But she can hardly
find a minute even to prepare her lessons.

Diana remains the Pogorelovas’ only child. Her mother sees no hope, no
future.

She will not attribute Diana’s condition to Chernobyl. She blames herself
for being an “old” mother (35 when Diana was born). But she does believe
that there is a sickness in the population. Many of her female teaching
colleagues have unexplained spinal problems, for example. She observes that
children are much “weaker” now than before, that they get tired far more
easily and that even psychologically there are changes.

“Radiation doesn’t only affect the liver,” she says.”It affects different
systems in the body and changes them, and we never know where it’s going to
strike.”

THE OTHER CATEGORY which rails against the IAEA’s Chernobyl Forum
report is the “liquidators”, the 600,000 heroes of the Soviet Union who battled
the radioactive inferno in 1986, working in radioactive hot spots, clearing up
the debris around the plant, disposing of vehicles, suppressing dust,
demolishing villages and controlling the populations.

The forum summary asserts that “as of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths had
been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being
highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident
but others who died as late as 2004″.

Contrast this with what the deputy head of the National Commission for
Radiation Protection in Ukraine told the Guardian: “[ Studies show] that
34,449 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the
years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was
nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.”

Few dismiss out of the hand the forum’s assertion that some illnesses in the
population are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles or
that under-reporting in previous years might be a factor in percentage
increases.

“Of course there is some truth in this,” says Dr Izhakovsky of Gomel
Regional Children’s Hospital. “We accept there has been a certain percentage
of under-reporting but believe it is minor. And of course we have social
problems now. But there is no huge gap between living conditions then and
now, other than a small percentage.

“The disaster was a difficult situation for any republic, although Belarus
was left facing all the problems and hadn’t enough money. You can say it’s
just a socio-economic problem, but on the other hand we didn’t have the
money to deal with it. Go to Vetka and see what people are eating there,
where radiation is three times higher than it should be.

Traditionally, Belarussians go to the woods for food, and that food is not
being checked for radiation. Fifty per cent of all the effects are
environmental – you cannot get away from that.”

“WHERE DID THE IAEA do its research?” he adds angrily, pointing out that no
one consulted him, although he has been a doctor here since 1982. “Why don’t
they do some real research work?”

He castigates those responsible for keeping the people in ignorance in 1986,
for not evacuating people quickly enough, for failing to give out iodine.

The politicians thought they were gods, he says, but they couldn’t
“influence the chemical processes”. And as for the academics who helped to
hide information at the time and are now handing it over when it’s too late:
“Where were you back then?” -30-
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10. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tue, April 25 2006

For Ukrainians the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster is a time to
grieve. For foreigners it is a chance to argue among themselves over the
future of nuclear power.

Ahead of a ceremony to be held at the plant on Wednesday to remember the
victims, politicians, scientists, and activists from around the world
gathered at competing international conferences to present their assessments
of the disaster.

The two sides came up with differing conclusions. Speakers at a conference
co-sponsored by the European Union, the United Nations and the International
Atomic Energy Agency pledged that such an accident would never be repeated.

At the other, an anti-nuclear forum put on by environmentalist groups,
speakers claimed the risk of future disasters was growing as memories of
Chernobyl faded and governments returned to nuclear power.

Wednesday’s anniversary has been a crucial intellectual battleground that
anti-nuclear activists believe will help determine whether or not nuclear
power makes a big comeback in the decades ahead.

Each side came prepared with studies showing that the effects of Chernobyl
on human health had been either less severe (from the IAEA and World Heath
Organisation) or more severe (from Greenpeace) than popularly imagined. The
two studies estimated the death toll at 9,300 and 93,000 respectively.

“There is everything to fight for and everything to lose,” Antony Froggat,
an anti-nuclear campaigner, declared at the environmentalist conference.
With most of the world’s power-generation infrastructure ageing and
governments under pressure from the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse
gases, he said “the next 10 years will be a unique period of investment that
will set in place trends in the power industry for generations”.

Meanwhile, just across the street at the intergovernmental conference,
Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s president, appealed to the international
community for aid, including $1bn (Euro806m, £560m) for a new enclosure to
cover the exploded reactor, which still leaks radiation. The planned
enclosure has been repeatedly stalled by disagreements between donors and
Kiev’s rapidly changing governments.

Other speakers were eager to counter the “gloom” that they accused
environmentalists of spreading. “The impact of Chernobyl in the popular
imagination is exaggerated 1,000 times. By far the worst effect is the
psychological impact,” said Kalman Mizsei, a UN assistant secretary-general,
in an interview.

Outside, a few dozen young European and Ukrainian activists held up
anti-nuclear banners. Another group of older men held placards that read:
“Chernobyl is the continuation of Ukrainian genocide!”. For them the
catastrophe is linked to Soviet misrule, and they want European leaders to
be more wary of Russia.

The explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 was yet another
catastrophe from which Ukraine had to bounce back in the last century. The
country lost 10m in the second world war and 7m in a famine in the 1930s.

The area around the plant is now a de facto wildlife preserve. Olga
Pereverzeva, an archaeologist who digs in the zone for medieval artefacts,
describes it as an idyll. She winces at proposals to declare much of it safe
for living.

Former Chernobyl workers and their families will gather this weekend in a
forest outside Kiev, near the housing blocks where most of them were
relocated. Their memories are sad but they keep their humour.

Olexy Barankevich, a journalist who grew up in the town next to the plant,
remembers how the group of children he was with when news spread decided
to run down towards the plant to “have a look at the fire”. “I’m very glad I
didn’t go,” he says. -30-
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11. FIRST AT CHERNOBYL, BURNING STILL

By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
New York, New York, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chernobyl still haunts, 20 years after that morning, April 26, 1986, when
something went wrong in Reactor No. 4 and it exploded, sending a plume of
debris and radioactive particles across the Soviet Union and eventually far
beyond.

Some have said that Chernobyl – the human and environmental toll it caused,
the obfuscations of the Kremlin it revealed – hastened the end of the Soviet
Union itself. Perhaps. It was certainly never the same afterward.

“What they described in newspapers and magazines – it was all rubbish,” said
Anatoly Rasskazov, the station photographer who was there that day.

“The ruins that I photographed from the ground and the upper part were
retouched so it couldn’t be seen that there was a ray coming from there,
that everything was glowing,” he said. “Just a ruin. So as not to get the
public up in arms.”

Twenty years later, the anniversary has occasioned new debate among those
who have studied its consequences and those who have wielded the results as
evidence of what a world in urgent search of energy should do with nuclear
power.

A committee of United Nations agencies released a study last fall concluding
that the effects were not as dire as first feared. It suggested that only
4,000 would, in the end, die from diseases caused by direct exposure to the
radiation. Greenpeace, the environmental group, released its own response
last week, saying Chernobyl would kill at least 90,000.

The true number may never be known, but the lasting impacts, physical and
psychological, are evident in those who came to be known as liquidators.
They were the hundreds of thousands of firefighters, pilots, soldiers,
scientists and experts sent to contain the damage, to evacuate the citizenry
and ultimately to encase the deadly ruin in a concrete sarcophagus whose
stability appears precarious.

A photographer for The New York Times sought out 27 of them in Moscow,
Kiev and Minsk, photographing them as they recounted their experiences at the
time and in the turbulent years that followed. What they described sounded
very much like war.

At least 47 workers and liquidators died almost immediately. Hundreds,
perhaps thousands have died since; the records are unclear. The rest endure
as veterans, many as invalids, sickly and unappreciated, if not entirely
unrecognized by newly independent countries that wish to put the worst of
Soviet history behind them.

“Just like the Germans had come, this enemy had arrived,” said Arkady
Rokhlin, an engineer, who was 58 at the time and so old enough to remember
that war. “And we had to defend ourselves.”

And like war, it was disorienting. Fear and heroism mingled with
bureaucratic chaos and surrealistic calm. “In a real war shells explode,
bullets fly, bodies fall, blood flows,” he said. And then he remembered the
summer of ’86 in the most poisoned place on earth: sun, birds, gardens
“bulging with fruit.”

“You couldn’t possibly have imagined that all this was death.” -30-

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12. CHERNOBYL’S DEATH TOLL

LEAD EDITORIAL: Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22 2006

In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster next week,
supporters and opponents of nuclear power have been trading wildly different
estimates for the number of people who are likely to die as a result of the
radioactivity spread across Europe by the explosion.

Fatal cancers will eventually kill 93,000 people according to Greenpeace,
9,000 according to the World Health Organisation and just 1,000 according to
one optimistic academic study.

The death toll from the world’s worst nuclear accident is of far more than
academic interest. The figures are propaganda in the increasingly vociferous
debate over whether industrialised countries should resume building nuclear
power stations in response to dwindling fossil fuel supplies and the threat
from global warming.

And Chernobyl’s impact on public health is an important practical issue in
the worst affected regions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, where an epidemic
of thyroid cancer among young people is overwhelming oncology services.

Independent public health researchers, writing in the current issue of the
scientific journal Nature, say all the uncertainties make it impossible to
give a reliable estimate for Chernobyl’s death toll, particularly among
the millions of Europeans who lived further from the reactor but still
received a radiation dose. (Eventoday, 370 sheep farms in Britain are
subject to movement restrictions as a result of Chernobyl fall-out.)

There could be tens of thousands of Chernobyl-related deaths over the next
30 years though it will be almost impossible to distinguish these from other
causes of cancer mortality. The psychological consequences – an inevitable
result of any nuclear accident – are probably even more important, in public
health terms, than the physical damage from radiation.

While environmental groups such as Greenpeace may exaggerate the effect of
Chernobyl, the nuclear industry and organisations such as the International
Atomic Energy Agency have tended to play them down. Nuclear advocates do
their cause no service when they portray Chernobyl as a historical event
irrelevant to today’s debate – an accident caused by human error and an
obsolete Soviet reactor.

Although the technical details may not be relevant to a 21st-century nuclear
renaissance, the broad principles of how to respond to a large radioactive
discharge certainly are. The accident – and its catastrophic handling by the
Soviet authorities – remains such a powerful symbol that advocates of
nuclear power must confront the issues it raises rather than ignoring or
belittling them.

It is a pity that a full-scale international study of Chernobyl’s health
effects was not started soon after the disaster, along the lines of the
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and its successor, the Radiation Effects
Research Foundation, which have produced invaluable radiological data by
studying Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors for 60 years.

It may still be worth launching such a project, although the research would
be much harder than in Japan because Chernobyl survivors are dispersed so
much more widely – and raising funds for it from independent sources would
be a formidable challenge. But the scientific uncertainty about the number
of long-term casualties from Chernobyl directly undermines public trust in
the nuclear industry. And this at the very time when a serious debate about
its merits is most needed. -30-
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13. HELL ON EARTH:
CHERNOBYL WAS WORLD’S WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
Twenty years on, John Vidal reports on the clean-up, the false medical records,

the communities that refused to leave and the continuing cost to people &planet

John Vidal, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 26, 2006

Twenty years ago today, Konstantin Tatuyan, a Ukrainian radio engineer, was
horrified when Reactor No 4 at Chernobyl nuclear power complex exploded,
caught fire, and for the next 10 days spewed the equivalent of 400 Hiroshima
bombs’ worth of radioactivity across 150,000 sq miles of Europe and beyond.
He was just married, and he and his young family lived in the town of
Chernobyl, just a few miles from the reactor.

Like 120,000 people, the family was evacuated, but Tatuyan volunteered to
become a “liquidator”, to help with the clean up, believing that his
knowledge of radiation could save not just him but many of the 200,000 young
soldiers and others who were rushed in from all over the Soviet Union. “We
felt we had to do it,” he says. “Who else, if not us, would do it?”

Tatuyan spent the next seven years in charge of 5,000 mostly young army
reservists – drafted in from Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Chechnya, Kazakhstan and
elsewhere in what was the Soviet Union – working 22 days on, eight days off,
digging great holes, demolishing villages, dumping high-level waste,
monitoring hot spots, testing the water, cleaning railway lines and roads,
decontaminating ground and travelling throughout some of the most
radioactive regions of Ukraine, Belarus and southern Russia.

He survived the worst environment disaster in history, he says, because he
knew the danger and could monitor the radioactivity that varied from yard to
yard and from village to village depending on where the plume descended to
ground level, and on where the deadly bits of graphite from the core of the
reactor were carried by the wind.

He took precautions but he also kept meticulous – albeit illegal – records
of his own accumulating exposure. Every year the authorities told him he was
“fit for duty”, and when he left Chernobyl they gave him a letter saying he
had received just under the safe lifetime dose of radiation. He knew he had
received more than five times that amount.

What he saw in those years, he says, appalled him: young men dying for want
of the simplest information about exposure to radiation; the wide-scale
falsification of medical histories by the Soviet army and the disappearance
of people’s records so the state would not have to compensate them; the
wholesale looting of evacuated houses and abandoned churches; the haste and
carelessness with which the concrete “sarcophagus” was erected over the
stricken reactor; and, above all, the horror of seeing land almost twice the
size of Britain contaminated, with thousands of villages made uninhabitable.

It was sometimes surreal, he says. He had people beg him to leave their
homes or villages contaminated because that would guarantee them a pension;
he recalls how several carriages of radioactive animal carcasses travelled
for five years around the Soviet Union being rejected by every state,
returning to Chernobyl to be buried – train and all.

He helped fill a 4 sq mile dump with radioactive lorries, cement mixers,
trains and helicopters. He knows where the Chernobyl bodies are buried, he
says, because he was the grave digger. “We made up the response as we went
along,” he says. “It was hell.”
OPTIMISTIC
Tatuyan has now retired, an invalid. He says he surely saved many lives and
made great parts of the Ukraine semi-habitable, but the price is a heart
condition, an enlarged thyroid, diabetes, pains in the right side of his
body, breathing difficulties and headaches.

But he is optimistic and, like several million people across Ukraine,
Belarus and southern Russia, says he now looks at his life in terms of the
time before and after Chernobyl. Most of his team of liquidators are dead;
the rest, like him, are ill.

Tatuyan is now 56, and his children and country are proud of him. For him,
the effect of the radiation on the environment was shocking. “The first
thing we noticed was that many miles of trees in the forest turned red,” he
says. “They had to be cut down and buried. All the animals left. The birds
did not come back for four years. It was strange not hearing them.

“In the winter of 1986/87, there was an infestation of mice because the
crops had not been harvested. So the population of foxes increased. Most of
them had rabies, and hunters were called to come and kill them. The wild
pigs came back first. Then the wolves. Because people were evacuated,
thinking they would be gone for only a few days, they left their dogs. But
the dogs then crossed with the wolves and were not afraid of humans. It was
very dangerous.”

Today, the forest is moving in on the modernistic town of Pripyat, built for
the reactor workers just a few miles from the plant. According to
ecologists, weathering, decay and the migration of radionuclides down the
soil have already led to a significant reduction of the contamination of
plants and animals. Some scientists are upbeat.

Biodiversity, says the Institute of Ecology in the Ukraine, has increased
due to the removal of human influence. Moose, wild boar, roe and red deer,
beavers, wolves, badgers, otters and lynx have all been reported in the
area, and species associated with humans – rats, house mice, sparrows and
pigeons – have all declined. Indeed, of 270 species of birds in the area,
180 are breeding.

But it is not as simple as that. Other scientists report mammals
experiencing heavy doses from internally deposited Caesium-137 and
Strontium-90 radioactive fallout. One study has found mutations in 18
generations of birds; another that radioactivity levels in trees are still
rising. Contamination has been found migrating into underground aquifers.

Levels of Caesium-137 are expected to remain high all over Europe for
decades, says the United Nations. In parts of Germany, Austria, Italy,
Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Poland, levels in wild game, mushrooms,
berries and fish from some lakes are well over a safe dose, as they are in
all the most affected regions of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

In Britain, there are still restrictions on milk on 375 hill farms, mainly
in Snowdonia and the Lake District. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of square
miles of agricultural land still cannot be used for farming until the soil
has been remediated.

Humans have fared badly. In the past few weeks four major scientific reports
have challenged the World Health Organisation (WHO), which believes that
only 50 people have died and 9,000 may over the coming years. The reports
widely accuse WHO of ignoring the evidence and dismissing illnesses that
many doctors in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus say are worsening, especially in
children of liquidators.

The charge is led by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, which last
week declared that 212,000 people have now died as a direct consequence of
Chernobyl. Meanwhile, a major report commissioned by Greenpeace considers
the evidence of 52 scientists and estimates the deaths and illnesses to be
93,000 termi nal cancers already and perhaps 100,000 deaths in time. A
further report for European parliamentarians suggested 60,000 deaths. In
truth no one knows.

More than 500km from Chernobyl, the peasant farmers of the village of
Boudimca, one of the most affected in Ukraine, refuse to leave, despite the
fact that many of their children are suffering from acute radiation
diseases. Every child in Boudimca has a thyroid problem – known as the
“Chernobyl necklace”.

The villagers are attached to the land.”We would prefer to die in our own
land rather than go somewhere else and not survive,” says Valentina
Molchanovich, one of whose daughters is in hospital in Vilne with radiation
sickness. “We understand the paradox, but we prefer to stay.”

Though they live simple lives – each family has a cow, ducks and a few
chickens – they suffer all the ailments of stressed out western executives:
high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes and respiratory problems. They know
that the berries and the mushrooms they have always lived on are
contaminated. “We are just so used to living here,” says Molchanovich. “My
parents lived here. We build our houses together. We are a very tight
community.”

But others are, literally, dying to leave the village. Mikola Molchanovich,
a distant relation, is the father of Sasha, a 12- year-old girl who this
month was also being treated for constant stomach aches in a children’s
hospital in Rivne.

He says: “My wife is in hospital giving birth, my son is in another hospital
being treated for radiation sickness. My sister has 30,000 becquerels [units
of radioactivity] in her body. Some people have 80,000, or more.

“This is our community; my parents lived and died here. We used to be able
to collect 100kg of mushrooms a day – the whole village would collect them.
Some of our cows have leukaemia. The people who moved away from the village
are healthier and better. I would go if I had the chance. But I am trapped.
I cannot sell my house because it is contaminated. People are becoming
weaker. We cannot feel it, we cannot see it, yet we are not afraid of it.
SITUATION WORSENING
“Everyone who helped on the clean up is now ill,” says Tatiana, a senior
doctor at the Dispensary for Radiological Protection at Rivne. “The
situation is worsening. In 1985, we had four lymph cancers a year. Now we
have seven times that many.

We have between five and eight people a year with rare bone cancers, when
we never had any. We expect more cancers, and ill health. One in three
pregnancies here are malformed. We are overwhelmed.”

A doctor in the local region’s children’s hospital says: “The children born
to the people who cleaned up Chernobyl are dying very young. We are finding
Caesium and Strontium in breast milk and the placenta. More children now
have leukaemias, and there has been a quadrupling of spina bifida cases.

There are more clusters of cancers. Children are being born with stunted
growth and dwarf torsos, without thighs. I would expect more of this over
the years.”

Tatuyan is now an environmentalist, convinced that nuclear power is no
answer. “I go to the forest with friends to care for the deer,” he says.

Tonight, he and the other liquidators will meet and celebrate the 20 years.
“When we meet we make the same toast. We say: ‘Let’s meet again alive.'”

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14. UKRAINE PRES URGES INTL AID FOR CHERNOBYL-HIT REGION

Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 24, 2006

KIEV – Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko appealed to the international
community for financial help Monday, days before the 20th anniversary of the
Chernobyl disaster, to help regenerate the surrounding region.

“We need to get rid of the Chernobyl stereotype as an incurable inflammation
on the body of Ukraine,” Yushchenko said, opening an international
conference of radiation and health experts in the Ukrainian capital. “This
is land – land we should recover and put back to life…A new day should
come to the Chernobyl area, a day of its recovery.”

That will require money – far more than this cash-strapped ex-Soviet
republic can afford, Yushchenko said, noting that Ukraine had already spent
$15 billion on Chernobyl-related projects.

The April 26, 1986, explosion at Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 spewed radiation
across much of northern Europe over a 10-day period, resulting in the
evacuation of more than 100,000 people and the contamination of more than
200,000 square kilometers of European land.

Death tolls connected to the explosion, which released about 400 times more
radiation than the U.S. atom bomb dropped over Hiroshima, remain hotly
debated, though at least 31 people died as a direct result of trying to
contain the fire.

Thousands have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and the U.N. health
agency said that about 9,300 people were likely to die of cancers caused by
radiation. Some groups, however, including Greenpeace, have put the numbers
10 times higher.

“The toll of the accident was huge, that is clear. And we can never forget
the problems it caused, but there is a way forward,” said U.N. Assistant
Secretary-General Kalman Mizsei, defending last year’s U.N. Chernobyl Forum
report that found the biggest obstacle to recovery was a sense of malaise
and fear among residents – rather than lingering radiation.

The U.N. report concluded that most of those affected received such low
doses of radiation that it was unlikely to have had any significant health
effects. “The 5 million residents of contaminated areas need not live in
fear of radiation – and that is a hopeful finding,” Mizsei said.

The three-day conference in Kiev, titled “Twenty Years after The Chernobyl
Accident. Future Outlook,” was being co-hosted by numerous U.N. agencies,
the European Commission and the governments of Russia and Belarus. It was
aimed at “reviewing and better using the experience gained from the accident
and enabling the world to be better prepared for a future accident of this
magnitude,” conference organizers said.

Yushchenko complained that even 20 years after the accident, much still
remained unknown about the tragedy, saying that people deserved truth more
than anything. He said that while the accident was horrific with almost
unspeakable consequences, it should not be used as a “black spot on energy
technology.”

“We have learned some lessons,” said Yushchenko, who has expressed his
backing for nuclear energy as a way to reduce Ukraine’s energy dependence on
Russian gas supplies.

Environmentalists protested outside the Ukrainian Opera House, where the
conference was held, carrying signs that read: “Remember Chernobyl. No
new Reactors.” -30-
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15. CHERNOBYL: 20 YEARS, NO END IN SIGHT TO THE SUFFERING

John Vidal and Mark Milner, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hundreds of thousands of people across Europe will today commemorate the
20th anniversary of the world’s worst human-made disaster – when Reactor 4
at the Chernobyl nuclear power complex exploded during a routine safety test
and sent a plume of radioactivity a mile high to drift over 40% of Europe
and as far away as Japan. Between 50 and 250 million curies of radiation,
approximately equal to 100 medium-sized atomic bombs, was unleashed.fd

But there will be no celebrations of progress in Ukraine – home to
Chernobyl – Russia, or Belarus, the three most affected countries, which
said yesterday they were struggling with a legacy of ill-health, poverty and
psychological illnesses affecting their people.

Yesterday Belarus said that one-sixth of the country was still contaminated
and the disaster had cost it $235bn (£131.5bn) so far. In a separate study,
scientists said the health of the 200,000 people in Ukraine who took part in
the cleanup had been badly affected. Across the region, hospitals said they
were overwhelmed by people with thyroid cancers, children with genetic
mutations and adolescents with radiation-linked illnesses.

But while five independent scientific studies in the last two weeks,
including one by the Russia’s academy of sciences, have estimated that
between 30,000 and 250,000 people have died so far as a result of the
disaster, yesterday the World Health Organisation maintained its figure that
only 50 people died and that it expects perhaps 9,000 to die eventually from
the accident.

Greg Hartl, a WHO spokesman, said a generation of people had become deeply
disturbed and poverty and lifestyle illnesses had scarred large populations.
“The relocation of people proved a … traumatic experience because of
disruption to social networks and the impossibility of returning home,” he
said.

Although vast areas across the three countries are technically
uninhabitable, several hundred people have either refused to go or are now
moving in to the abandoned houses in the “dead zone” surrounding the
reactor.

In Chernobyl, Ivan Benidenko, his wife Natalya and father Petro have moved
back, but say they get their food supplies from outside. “I am from here, I
like living here. Now we are trying to rebuild a life,” said Ivan. “This is
the birth of a new community. It is our big hope, even though there are no
children.”

On the edge of a forest, Maria Urupa and her husband Mikhail were both
victims who refused to leave in 1986 and now take their chances. They eat
contaminated berries and mushrooms. “I am afraid of nothing here. Our
neighbours were very ill, and many who left have died, and my son had
stomach illnesses for years but we are lucky. We would die if we left,” she
said.

Meanwhile, the future of the reactor is uncertain. A sarcophagus of nearly
700,000 tonnes of steel and 400,000 tonnes of concrete was hastily built to
seal the reactor in 1986, but this is now leaking and close to the end of
its life.

Vince Novak, the director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development’s nuclear safety department who is in charge of the bank’s
Chernobyl project said: “How the Soviets built [the sarcophagus] in 1986 for
me is almost a miracle. I can’t think of anyone else being able to do it in
the way they did it.”

The plan now is to construct a giant steel arch, costing nearly $1.2bn,
which will be installed over the site. But this will not be ready for five
years.

The structure will last 100 years but because 200 tonnes of uranium and
almost a tonne of elements including plutonium are still inside the power
station, as well as vast amounts of radioactive water and dust, the reactor
may have to be monitored forever.
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LINK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukraine/story/0,,1761437,00.html
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16. CANADA TO GIVE $8MILLION CANADIAN DOLLARS MORE
FOR BUILDING CHERNOBYL REACTOR SHELTOR

Associated Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tue, April 25, 2006

OTTAWA – Canada announced Tuesday it would contribute an additional
C$8 million to help complete a concrete shelter over the damaged reactor at
the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement on the eve of
the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy in Ukraine, the world’s worst
nuclear accident.

The 1986 explosion and fire at Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4 spewed radiation
over much of northern Europe. Engineers hastily erected a shelter over the
damaged reactor, while the rest of the plant continued to operate until
2000.

Experts say the shelter over Reactor No. 4 is now crumbling, and needs to be
replaced. The Group of Eight, the European Union, Ukraine and other
countries have pledged funding for the project, which is estimated to cost
US$420 million.

MacKay said the funding would bring Canada’s total contribution to
Chernobyl-related projects to C$66.2 million. -30-
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17. AUTHORITIES ACCUSED OF DOWNPLAYING CHERNOBYL
CONSEQUENCES IN FRANCE

Associated Press (AP), Paris, France, Tue, April 25, 2006

PARIS – French children drank radioactive milk and radiation still pocks
Alpine valleys because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, according to
researchers and cancer victims who accuse authorities of downplaying the
disaster’s consequences in France.

Government agencies have adjusted some of their initial estimates of
radiation released from the world’s worst nuclear accident, 20 years ago
Wednesday. They deny any intentional deception, however, and say critics
exaggerate the health and environmental damage.

The French government has been widely ridiculed for insisting after the 1986
accident the radiation didn’t reach France, though neighboring countries all
said it had passed through their skies. Some say France was protecting its
powerful nuclear industry.

“The government didn’t want to know,” said Roland Desbordes, head of the
respected Commission for Independent Research and Information on
Radioactivity. “It was content to say: We saw nothing, therefore there was
nothing.”

The commission, which has been monitoring radiation levels since the
accident, says they were 100 to 1,000 times higher than the government
initially reported. Pockets of radiation from Chernobyl settled in crevices
and valleys in the Alps and have remained, the commission says.

More than 500 people who have developed thyroid and other cancers they
believe are linked to the accident have pressed charges against the French
government since 2001. The cases are still under review, as prosecutors
consider whether to reduce the charge to “deception” instead of “voluntary
violence,” as the victims are seeking.

Death tolls connected to the Chernobyl explosion remain hotly debated. The
U.N. health agency said about 9,300 people, mostly in the former Soviet
Union, were likely to die of cancers caused by radiation, but some groups
put the numbers 10 times higher.

France’s Agriculture Ministry said at the time of the blast that food wasn’t
affected. No warnings were issued and no products were pulled from shelves,
as happened elsewhere. Other European countries said children should be kept
inside and recommended drinking powdered milk. Poland and Germany
distributed or recommended iodine tablets to protect thyroid glands from
radiation. France did none of these things.

Then, in a 1997 report, the government radiation safety agency admitted
leafy vegetables in northwest France and meat and milk from animals that ate
them, including cows and sheep, contained unusually high levels of radiation
following the accident. In 2005, the safety agency released “readjusted”
figures showing radiation levels in 1986 were 1,000 times higher in some
areas than initially registered.

The environment minister at the time, Alain Carignon, later said he was
“tormented” by the Chernobyl experience and regretted not being able to give
the population more information.

Didier Champion, a director at the government radiation safety agency today,
said it remains a “puzzle” how his predecessors made their calculations.

French nuclear industry officials have denied pressuring the government to
downplay the accident’s consequences. Influential reactor-maker Areva
(427583.FR) called the accident “a catastrophe that sent the nuclear
industry to work on safety, responsibility and transparency.”

France is more dependent on any other country on nuclear energy, yet has
had little of the public debate about nuclear power seen elsewhere in Europe
before and since Chernobyl.

“It’s to protect the French nuclear image that they decided to hide the
consequences of the Chernobyl cloud,” said Stephoane Lhomme, activist
with the Get Out of Nuclear group. He called the official data “either serious
incompetence or a deliberate underestimation.”

Tuesday, about 20 French activists tried to block a truck carrying
radioactive materials near Cherbourg on the Atlantic Coast.
Wearing yellow smocks reading “Citizens’ Inspection,” the activists
stretched out across a highway, sounded a siren and waved flares shooting
white smoke. Riot police accompanying the truck dispersed the group
peacefully. -30-
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18. CHERNOBYL: THE GERMANY SYNDROME

COMMENTARY: Essay By Michael Miersch
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

Chernobyl fever has hit Germany. Nowhere else in the world, Ukraine probably
included, did the reactor accident of April 26, 1986, leave such deep scars.
In Germany it is considered the greatest manmade civil catastrophe of the
20th century, a warning against the incalculable risks of technological
progress.

A plethora of events commemorate its 20th anniversary. Activists from the
German branch of Friends of the Earth have been marching since March through
12 German cities, carrying with them giant models of nuclear reactors and
the concrete sarcophagus built around the Chernobyl reactor to contain
radioactive debris.

Greenpeace Germany is organizing Chernobyl exhibitions in several cities and
a demonstration next week in Munich. On Sunday, a memorial service will be
held in a church in Frankfurt. Movie theaters are showing “The Cloud,” an
apocalyptic fantasy about a fictional nuclear disaster in Germany.

The movie is based on a children’s book of the same name published in 1987
and inspired by the Chernobyl accident. It instantly became standard reading
material at German high schools.

The Chernobyl accident triggered in the Western part of the then
still-divided Germany an apocalyptic cult. Mothers placed blankets over
their baby carriages to protect children from nuclear fallout. Others didn’t
even let their children outside. A facility was built for several million
deutsche marks to decontaminate so-called “radioactive whey.”

Nobody seemed to care that it contained less radiation than many food items
contain naturally. Railroad cars carrying the harmless powder were guarded
by the Bundeswehr. Only the East Germans were happy because there was
finally enough fresh fruit and vegetables in the “worker and farmer
state” — at least as long as West Germans refused to buy East German
agricultural products out of fear that they could be radioactive. Twenty
years later, the statistics in Germany show no increase in either cancer or
birth defects.

Chernobyl was the powerful myth that catapulted the Greens into the
mainstream, for the first time aligning their policy goals with the thinking
of the middle class. In the first parliamentary elections following
Chernobyl, in 1987, they received a sensational 8.3%, up from 5.6% in the
previous election. At the same time, the Social Democrats had to become
“greener” to compete for voters.

The accident ultimately carried the Red-Green alliance into power.
Chernobyl’s real long-term effect in Germany wasn’t higher cancer rates but
the Schröder-Fischer government.

Chernobyl still smolders deep within the soul of every German over 30. This
is also a result of the media’s (mis)reporting, overwhelmingly reflecting
the fears and prognoses of the environmental doomsayers. Scientists and
experts on radiation were almost entirely discredited as puppets of the
nuclear lobby.

Sensational television programs showed miscarriages and birth defects that
had nothing to do with Chernobyl but were filmed in completely different
parts of the former Soviet Union.

These days, few newspapers bothered to report, and if so only in the back
pages, a major study by the World Health Organization, the International
Atomic Energy Agency and other U.N. agencies. It’s a pity the German public
remains largely uninformed about this report as it refutes pretty much all
the common misconceptions about Chernobyl.

Dr. Burton Bennett, head of the U.N.’s Chernobyl Forum, summarizes it as
follows: “This was a very serious accident with major health consequences,
especially for thousands of workers exposed in the early days who received
very high radiation doses, and for the thousands more stricken with thyroid
cancer.

By and large, however, we have not found profound negative health impacts to
the rest of the population in surrounding areas, nor have we found
widespread contamination that would continue to pose a substantial threat to
human health, with a few exceptional, restricted areas.”

According to the report, fewer than 50 deaths can so far be attributed
directly to radiation. In addition, nine children have died of thyroid
cancer. Several thousand became sick with it, but the survival rate for
thyroid cancer is now 99%. The scientists predict that over the next 70
years a total of around 4,000 people will eventually contract cancer and die
earlier than they would have if the accident hadn’t happened.

Every death is tragic but these figures are far below those cited in
Germany, where a macabre argument has broken out about the number of
victims. Opponents of nuclear energy are protesting the U.N. report. The
German section of Greenpeace said this week that 93,000 people died.

Renate Künast, parliamentary head of the Greens, recently spoke of 100,000
dead. Earlier this month, the German section of International Physicians for
the Prevention of Nuclear War put the death toll at 264,000. For many
Germans, the catastrophe simply cannot be less than what they so long have
believed it to be.

It is during all that Chernobyl hype that government and industry are
discussing Germany’s energy future. The problems are the same as nearly
everywhere: Wind and solar energy are expensive and often unreliable. Coal
burning releases too much carbon dioxide. Oil and gas create dependencies on
countries one prefers not to depend on.

But discussing nuclear power in Germany remains a taboo. The previous
Red-Green government ordered all nuclear power plants to be gradually shut
down by 2021. Today they supply roughly a third of the country’s
electricity. Around the world, over 100 new nuclear reactors are being built
or planned. But a majority of Germans still regards nuclear energy as the
devil’s handiwork.

From the Greens’ perspective, anyone who doubts the apocalyptic version is
either cynical or has been bought. As with the alleged death of forests
(Waldsterben), the belief in the Chernobyl apocalypse has become a question
of conviction. Unfortunately, an industrialized country’s energy needs can’t
be met with a surplus of conviction. -30-
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Mr. Miersch, a columnist for Die Welt, regularly addresses the German
state of mind on his Web site, www.maxeiner-miersch.de. Belinda Cooper
translated this essay from the German.
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19. DECLARED DEAD AFTER CHERNOBYL, NUCLEAR LIVES AGAIN

FEATURE ARTICLE: By Jeremy Lovell
Reuters News Service, London, UK, Friday, April 21, 2006

LONDON – When reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in
Ukraine exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radioactive dust over much of
Europe, many people believed the disaster sounded the death knell for
nuclear power.

The radioactive fallout — up to 10 times the amount released during the
Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945 — spread across Ukraine and its neighbours
and reached eastern Europe, Scandinavia, northern Britain and even eastern
United States.

Estimates of human deaths from the explosion vary from tens to thousands.
The accident made Chernobyl a global byword for all the perceived ills of
nuclear power. But 20 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, atomic
power is back in favour in several countries.

“The safety record of the nuclear industry since Chernobyl has been very
good. Predictions of a major incident every 10 years have simply proved
incorrect,” Malcolm Grimston of the Royal Institute for International
Affairs think-tank said. “Fossil fuel prices have shot up in the past
decade, so the economic argument has swung back in favour of nuclear power.”

Booming economy China is embarking on a major nuclear building programme,
the United States has given the green light to new nuclear plants and at
least 15 other nations from Turkey to Australia are considering nuclear
power. Britain is debating whether to renew ageing nuclear plants, —
despite sharp controversy — and the Group of Eight rich nations is expected
to endorse atomic power at a July summit.
NUCLEAR AGE?
The reasons for nuclear’s rehabilitation are simple, although they stem from
intractable global challenges. Many scientists say global warming, blamed in
large part on the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, factories and
cars, could herald catastrophic climate changes such as more droughts.

Turmoil in the Middle East, declining reserves of oil and gas elsewhere and
the rising power of unpredictable, energy-rich Russia have pushed security
of supply up the political agenda.

The nuclear industry boasts it has zero carbon emissions and, as fuel can be
stored for decades, is not at the mercy of international supply chains such
as those for oil and gas.

“Nuclear is emerging as the lowest cost option with likely forward high
fossil fuel prices, the greenhouse gas issue and likelihood of costs being
imposed on CO2 emissions,” said Ian Hore-Lacy of the World Nuclear
Association (WNA), which aims to promote nuclear power as a sustainable
energy resource.

Those opposed to nuclear power say, however, that the question of what to do
with nuclear waste, which has a lethal life measured in thousands of years,
has not been resolved.

There are about 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 31
countries supplying about 16 percent of the world’s electricity, ranging
from 78 percent in France to two percent in China, according to the WNA.

At a March meeting of the Group of Eight, Russia and the United States urged
the world to embrace nuclear power to guarantee stable energy supplies and
cut dangerous emissions. Russia said “safe and secure” nuclear power
represented a crucial alternative for countries that choose to use it.

Rapidly developing countries like India are banking on nuclear in their
quest for unlimited energy supplies, but some analysts say they could simply
be exchanging reliance on Middle East oil and gas for dependence on a
45-nation club of nuclear fuel suppliers.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
The nuclear industry’s most optimistic scenario sees atomic power providing
half the world’s electricity in less than 50 years, but while it may be
ready to celebrate nuclear’s rebirth, opposition from the green movement is
mounting.

Anti-nuclear campaigners note huge cost overruns on building nuclear plants,
the need for massive state subsidies to make atomic power economically
viable and the fact that no new designs for plants have been proven on a
commercial scale yet.

They also say that the massive expenditure needed for nuclear power would
divert much needed resources from cleaner and cheaper alternatives like
wind, solar, waves and biomass.

“There is a real chance to give power to the people,” said Philip Sellwood
of the Energy Saving Trust (EST), a British body funded by government and
industry to promote energy efficiency. “It would be extremely unfortunate if
we say this is a large-scale technology solution. We would fail to deliver
on the environment, security of supply or cost,” he told Reuters.

Environmentalists are not alone in raising danger flags. A report this month
from a British all-party parliamentary group warned the government, faced
with having to shut down all but one of its ageing nuclear plants within a
decade, not to rush a decision on a new generation of nuclear power
stations. “Over the next 10 years, nuclear power cannot contribute either to
the need for more generating capacity or to carbon reductions as it simply
could not be built in time,” it said.

The report said many issues — like long-term waste disposal, public
acceptability and the availability of uranium — still needed to be
resolved, and it raised questions of safety, the risk of terrorist attacks
and nuclear proliferation.

Hore-Lacy dismissed the worries as “fear-mongering”, while Grimston said
that, on paper at least, nuclear technology was now cheaper, more reliable
and safer.

“On safety, Chernobyl was a flawed design — which is why it wasn’t licensed
here — that was badly operated,” said Grimston, who pointed out that nobody
was hurt in America’s worst nuclear accident in 1979 at the Three Mile
Island plant in Pennsylvania.

For Greenpeace nuclear specialist Jean McSorley, the industry’s optimism is
a case of smoke and mirrors. “There are still more reactors round the world
planned for closure than construction. I think this is very good public
relations from an industry that knows that if not now — with high energy
prices — then it will be never,” she said. -30-
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20. COMMEMORATION OF THE CHERNOBYL DISASTER:
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE TWENTY YEARS LATER
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 – 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C
.

The Kennen Institute, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

WASHINGTON – On April 26, 1986, the nuclear power plant in a small
city north of Kyiv in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
exploded, making the name of the city-Chernobyl-a household word around
the world.

In the almost twenty years since the accident, we have learned much
about its causes, immediate consequences, and long-term aftermath.
However, although many people know the basic story of Chernobyl, for U.S.
audiences the details and the human experience of Chernobyl have faded.

The Kennan Institute, in cooperation with the University of Alberta and the
Harriman Institute, will commemorate the disaster on its twentieth
anniversary in an attempt to help to bring the personal side of the story
back into the spotlight. The event will be held Wednesday, April 26, 2006 –
8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.
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http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1424&fuseaction=topics.event_summary&event_id=174453
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21. 20th ANNIVERSARY CHORNOBYL COMMEMORATION

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AND REQUIEM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7 PM, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Group, Washington, D.C., April, 2006
WASHINGTON – The Washington Group in cooperation with The
Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC and the Washington, DC
area Ukrainian churches invite you to a 20th Anniversary Chornobyl
Commemoration Candlelight Vigil and Requiem.

The event will be held at the Taras Shevchenko Monument, 22nd and

P St. NW, Washington, DC which is near the Dupont Metro station
Please bring candles. -30-
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For more information please contact: Andrew Sorokowski,
202-514-1822or Adrian Pidlusky 240-381-0993
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22. CHORNOBYL: THE NEXT GENERATION
Conference, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, April 29, 2006, 9 a.m.

Chornobyl: The Next Generation” Coalition, Chicago, Illinois, April 2006

CHICAGO – A coalition of professional, educational and community
organizations in Chicago is hosting the conference “Chornobyl: The Next
Generation” to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear plant
disaster.

The conference will be held Saturday, April 29, 9:00 am- 5:00 pm, at the
School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, Il.

It will be preceded by an evening reception on Friday, April 28 at the
Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago which will be showing a special
Chornobyl exhibit.

The conference will examine the ongoing health and social effects of the
disaster on Ukraine and Belarus. Participants will discuss the effects on
both countries and provide new information on consequences that continue

to have an impact on the residents of Ukraine, Belarus and many other
countries.

The distinguished panel of experts includes: David Marples, professor of
history, University of Alberta, Edmonton, and the author of “The Social
Impact of the Chornobyl Disaster,” Dr. Ihor Masnyk, director of the
Chornobyl Research Project, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Dr. A. E.
Okeanov, vice rector, International Sakharov Environmental University,
Belarus and Dr. Pavlo Zamostyan, Project Manager, UN Chornobyl

Recovery and Development Program.

Also on the agenda are discussions of the sarcophagus and international
relief efforts, as well as nuclear energy safety, with presentations by Dr.
Andrew Sowder, U.S. Department of State, Gordon Fowler, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Daria and Karim Khan, Shelter Implementation

Plan, Alex Kuzma, Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund,
and others.

The conference was organized through the joint efforts of the Ukrainian
Business and Professional Group of Chicago, the Ukrainian Medical
Association of North America-Illinois Chapter, the Ukrainian Engineers’
Society, Chicago Chapter, and the University of Illinois at Chicago
Occupational Health and Safety Center.

Pre-registration by April 26 is required. The registration fee is $35
general public, $15 students, $10 for box lunches. Register and pay by
credit card at (312) 996-6904 or online at
http://128.248.232.70/glakes/ce/register.asp?gid=369.
For additional information, call Anna Mostovych at 847-359-3676 or

Marijka at 773-883-9737. -30-

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
23. LEGACY OF THE CHORNOBYL DISASTER, TWENTY YEARS ON

Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)
Australia, Thursday, April 20, 2006

Australians should take a moment to pause and reflect on the effects of
the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, twenty years on from the tragic events of
26 April 1986,

It was a cool Saturday night in northern Ukraine when one of the four
nuclear reactors at the Chornobyl power station, located 130 kilometers
north of Kyiv near the town of at Prypyiat, exploded and released clouds
of deadly radioactive particles.

Over the next few days Soviet authorities slowly evacuated over 100,000
people from areas of northern Ukraine, southern Belarus and Russia as
radioactive clouds spread across Europe.

“The world should never forget what happened in Chornobyl and the legacy
that accident has left upon tens of thousands of families in Ukraine,
Belarus and Russia” Chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian
Organisations (AFUO) Stefan Romaniw OAM said today.

“While health effects and land contamination levels are decreasing, the
accident has left a major scare on the psyche of the Ukrainian people and
represents one of the most obvious examples of the incompetence of the
Soviet regime.”

Australia’s Ukrainian community has planned a number of ecumenical services
nationally to remember those who had died from the initial explosion at the
huge nuclear power plant, or from after effects from exposure to high doses
of radiation. The AFUO is hosting and touring nationally a photographic
Exhibition Chornobyl 20 Years, 20 Lives by Danish Journalist Photographer
Meds Skeen.

“We would ask all Australians not to forget the tragedy of this event and to
remember the people – particularly the children – who suffered as a result
of the Chornobyl explosion.” Mr. Romaniw said.

“Twenty years on, while the world considers alternative power generation
methods to coal, Chornobyl should remain a legacy of what happens when
dictatorial, unelected governments like the Soviets, use this energy without
proper respect for its power and possible dangers.” Mr. Romaniw said

“We should never lose sight of the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives
were changed forever by the events of the Chornobyl disaster. The AFUO
asks everyone simply to remember the lives lost, the lives scared and those
who are still living with terrible memories from the events of that night.”
Mr. Romaniw said.

“The old Soviet system has much to answer for .To date this system has not
been condemned or held accountable for its then lies, atrocities and blatant
disregard for human life, environment or the future” Mr. Romaniw said.
—————————————————————————————————
AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION OF UKRAINIAN ORGANISATIONS
Representing 24 Peak Ukrainian Organisations in Australia –
Member of Ukrainian World Congress, sromaniw@bigpond.net.au.
————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
24. UKRAINE’S CHERNOBYL PLANT STAFF MOURN COLLEAGUES

By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, 21 Apr 2006

KIEV – Staff from Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power station on duty when
the plant’s fourth reactor exploded 20 years ago honoured colleagues who
died in the aftermath and recalled how the disaster shattered their lives.

Dressed in their best suits and sporting rows of medals, dozens of engineers
and firefighters remembered in vivid detail while gathered in a Kiev
cemetery the terrifying images of a radiation inferno out of control.

“We have summoned our courage and overcome our pain to come today to
bow our heads by these graves,” said Oleksander Zelentsov, head of a group
which brings together those who were at work at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986.

“What we did with our colleagues will always be remembered. The accident
split our lives into ‘before and after’. But we have found strength and life
supporting each other.” After a memorial service in a church, members of
the “Ray 5/2 Union”, so named for the two shifts of the day, laid flowers
and lit candles at the gravesides of dozens who paid with their lives to
contain the world’s worst civil nuclear disaster.

A series of explosions at 1.26 a.m. destroyed reactor No. 4 station and
several hundred staff and firefighters were thrown into the task of tackling
a blaze that burned for 10 days, sending a plume of radiation around the
world.

Flames soared into the sky, sparks cascaded down from cables hanging from
shattered pumps, dirty water gushed in all directions and the reactor’s
wreckage was red hot. Worst of all was a blue-white light shooting
skyward — a shaft of ionising radiation from the exposed reactor core.
LIMITED PROTECTION
Staff toiled without protective clothing and, more often than not, with no
equipment to measure the radiation. Their families were asleep a mere 3 km
(two miles) away in Pripyat, a town specially built along with the plant.
Absorption of huge radiation doses turned out to be fatal for some. Workers
from that shift were ferried to hospitals in Kiev or in Moscow. Many
remained for long periods.

“I worked for the entire night,” said Oleksander Nikhaev, a senior engineer.
“On April 27, I was already in hospital in Moscow. I stayed there until
February 1988. Over 80 percent of my skin had radiation burns. I underwent
19 operations.” Twenty years on, all agree that they had lived two lives.

One was anchored in a stable job, with high pay and comfortable housing in
Pripyat, a model Soviet town near a river bank and abundant forests. he
other life meant hospitals, disease and destitution. “The accident took
everything away. It changed everything. Health, work problems. It was a
calamity,” said Oleksander Ogulov, a Chernobyl engineer.

Time has taken a toll. The Ray 5/2 Union had 250 members when it was
founded. Only 174 are left. “Eight years ago, we brought three baskets of
flowers. Today we bring 12 to this cemetery alone,” Zelentsov said.

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
25. BELARUS SCIENTIST JAILED FOR CRITICISING HANDLING
OF CHERNOBYL DISASTER ARRIVES IN FRANCE

Agence France-Presse, Gmtylon, France, Saturday, 22 April 2006

GMTLYON, France – Belarussian scientist Yuri Bandazhevsky, a specialist
in nuclear medicine who was jailed for criticising the way the effects of the
Chernobyl disaster were dealt with, arrived in France late Friday, local
officials said.

Bandazhevsky, who arrived with his wife Galina on his first trip abroad
since his release last August, is to take up a residential study post in the
central French city of Clermont-Ferrand, mayor Serge Godard said.

Former head of the Gomel medical institute, Bandazhevsky was considered a
prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He was arrested in late
1999 and sentenced in 2001 to eight years in a labour camp for “corruption.”

Bandazhevsky had accused the authoritarian government of President Alexander
Lukashenko of irresponsibility in dealing with the effects on health of the
1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in neighbouring Ukraine and
concealing the extent of the disaster.

His arrival in France comes a few days before the 20th anniversary of
Chernobyl. Bandazhevsky was made an honorary citizen of Clermont-Ferrand,
which is twinned with Gomel, in 2002. -30-
————————————————————————————————
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