Chernobyl’s radioactive legacy

Ukraine marks the 25th anniversary of the meltdown as Japan tries to avert a similar catastrophe


As Japan works to prevent a meltdown at its earthquake-hit Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, Ukraine is preparing to mark the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident. The legacy of the meltdown at the Chernobyl plant includes a 30-km uninhabited ring around the site of the meltdown, billions of dollars spent cleaning the region, and a major new effort to raise US $840 million in funds that Kiev needs to build a more durable casement over the stricken reactor. Psychological and physical scars persist, too. Studies have found that “exposed populations had anxiety levels that were twice as high” as people unaffected by the accident, as well as a “dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence” in the Ukraine and just across the border in Belarus. But there are differences between Chernobyl and the disaster in Japan. Chernobyl was the product of human error, while the Japanese failure was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami. Chernobyl occurred in a secretive Soviet society, and authorities attempted to cover-up the truth until three days after it occurred, which delayed international aid. Most notably, thick containment walls at the Fukushima Daiichi plant shielded the reactor cores so that even if there was a meltdown, it’s unlikely to lead to a major escape of dangerous radioactive clouds into the atmosphere. Chernobyl had no such structure.


Filed under:

Chernobyl’s radioactive legacy

  1. Chernobyl would be an apt comparison… if you were talking about reactors that continued to be active during meltdown, while having no containment system. This marks the 25th anniversary of the kind of nuclear scaremongering that has made us reliant on far worse sources of energy – namely coal and oil.
    -thousands of people have died from black lung
    -thousands of people have died working in various stages of the oil processing process
    -thousands have died in wars aimed at protecting access to oil
    -thousands have had their life expectancies shortened as a result to exposure from pollutants from oil and gas plants
    -this is not to mention oil spills, the environmental damage from coal tailings or global warming.

    Nuclear power is not perfect, but at least its dangers can be minimized by good design. But by all means, the primarily localized damage of Japan's nuclear plants which will kill no more than two dozen people is reason enough for an irrational hysteria.

  2. Socialists built Chernobyl – that was the real problem.
    The former East Bloc countries had all sorts of environmental disasters revealed after the Wall fell, but it didn't get much media attention because our left-wing media and left-wing environmentalists were so disappointed at the failure of socialism.
    Big government's do whatever they want without oversight – that's why government must be smaller.

  3. Even so, the death from the accident was, 70!

Sign in to comment.