23 years ago…
On April 26, 1986, Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine exploded. The explosion took place around midnight while the neighboring town of Pripyat slept. 4 workers were killed instantly. Four days later, the residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate. The residents never returned and the town still remains uninhabited to this day.
While we should never forget the tragedy and who it affected, never forget who allowed it to happen and let innocent people suffer:
The first warning came in Sweden. At 9 a.m. on Monday, April 28, technicians at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant, 60 miles north of Stockholm, noticed disturbing signals blipping across their computer screens.
Two days later, Sweden noticed the radiated pollution before the Soviet authorities mentioned anything!
A glance at prevailing wind patterns confirmed their fear. For several days, currents of air had been whipping up from the Black Sea, across the Ukraine, over the Baltic and into Scandinavia. But when the Swedes and their neighbors demanded an explanation from Moscow, they were met by denials and stony silence. For six hours, as officials throughout Scandinavia insisted that something was dangerously amiss, the Soviets steadfastly maintained that nothing untoward had happened.
Throughout the week, an anxious, puzzled and increasingly frustrated world struggled to understand the extent of the disaster. The task was made impossibly difficult by the Soviets’ stubborn refusal to provide anything more than a few sketchy details. Moscow’s obstinance condemned people everywhere to fragmentary and often conflicting accounts that tended to shift abruptly as new facts became known. Not until the weekend did a Soviet official come forth with the beginnings of a straightforward account.
While Soviet pronouncements sought to minimize the extent of the damage, information gathered from satellite photos suggested a hellish scene at the accident site. All evidence pointed to a nuclear reactor fire burning out of control in the gentle, rolling Ukrainian countryside and steadily releasing radiation into the air. That makes the catastrophe unimaginably worse than the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, where a containment building kept most radioactive material from escaping out of the plant. The Chernobyl unit, by contrast, lacked such a protective structure.
Why lose face in front of your global peers when you can let your second class citizens (the Ukrainians) suffer in silence instead?
Continue reading Remembering Chornobyl