On Tuesday, April 26 at 8 AM, members of
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster, there will be a screening of the documentary "
Published on Monday, April 25, 2011 by Agence France-Presse
, Haunted by Nuclear Fears Chernobyl
The radioactive debris landed around the reactor, creating an apocalyptic scene in the surrounding area, while material also blew into the neighbouring Soviet republics of
Two workers were killed by the explosion and 28 other rescuers and staff died of radiation exposure in the next months. Tens of thousands needed to be evacuated and fears remain of the scale of damage to people's health.
Top officials are expected to visit the site Tuesday along with the Russian Orthodox patriarch and
But the anniversary has gained an eerily contemporary resonance after the earthquake in
Japan has placed the disaster on the maximum seven on an international scale of atomic crises, the same level as Chernobyl, and the troubles at
UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano admitted in
The operator of Fukushima, Tokyo Electrical Power Co. (TEPCO), has also come under fire over its information policy, an echo of the disastrous reluctance of the Soviet authorities to admit the truth over
Moscow stayed silent on the disaster for three days, with the official news agency TASS only reporting an accident at Chernobyl on April 28 after the Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden reported unusually high radiation.
Even then the authorities played down the scale of the disaster, with the traditional revolutionary celebrations for May 1 going ahead in
In 1986 and 1987, the Soviet government sent over half a million rescue workers (liquidators), to clear up the power station and decontaminate the surrounding area, many not fully aware of the scale of the calamity.
"The catastrophe at
But despite the notoriety of
Some experts have said the worst health legacy of
In 2005, several UN agencies including the World Health Organisation, said in a report a total of 4,000 people could eventually die as a result of the radiation exposure.
But the UN Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) says other than the 30 confirmed deaths in the immediate aftermath only 19 ARS (Acute Radiation Syndrome) survivors had died by 2006 for various reasons.
Other than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer -- a usually treatable condition -- from contaminated milk there was "no persuasive evidence" of any other effect on the general population from radiation, it said in a report this February.
But environmental campaign group Greenpeace in 2006 accused the UN agencies of grossly underestimating the toll, saying there would be an estimated 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by
After the disaster, the Soviet authorities put up a supposedly temporary concrete shelter to protect the destroyed reactor but there have long been worries about its durability.
A new sarcophagus is being built nearby and is scheduled to be erected over the reactor in the next years.
But astonishingly, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is running the project, has yet to win full funding for its completion.
The conference last week secured 550 million euros ($785 million) in new pledges, short of the 740 million euros still needed.
© 2011 Agence France-Presse
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