Ukraine marks 30th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster


Ukraine is marking the 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, which poisoned considerable part of eastern Europe. The radiation contaminated the air in Ukraine and the adjacent Soviet states of Belarus and Russia, and sent radioactive debris over Europe. Up to 4,000 people would eventually die from the effects of the explosion, according to a 2005 UN report. On April 26, 1986, during a system test, a reactor at the massive nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine experienced a large power spike, causing steam explosions that spewed poisonous clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing thousands of people to abandon Pripyat town.

The relatives of those who died in the disaster attended candle-lit vigils at many churches, including at Slavutych, a town built for workers who lived near the nuclear plant. A series of events are being held throughout the day. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has attended a ceremony in Kiev, and laid a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the disaster.

Persistent fears of new leaks have prompted an international thrust to fund the construction of a giant new arch that could keep the nuclear site safe for at least a century. International donors on Monday have pledged an additional 87.5 million euros ($99 million) toward building a larger new spent nuclear fuel storage facility that could let Ukrainians live without fear for generations to come. The 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the US and Chernobyl’s disaster prompted a strong turn in public opinion against nuclear power.

“Chernobyl has become a serious lesson for all mankind, and to this day it has severe repercussions on both the environment and human health. The scale of the tragedy could be immeasurably greater, if it were not for the unprecedented courage and dedication of the firefighters, military personnel, experts, medical workers who honorably fulfilled their professional and civic duty. Many of them sacrificed their own lives to save others,” Russian President Vladimir said.

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