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28 years on and the struggle continues for those affected by the world's biggest nuclear disaster

The increasingly volatile situation in strife-torn Ukraine is raising new fears for Chernobyl.

THE WORLD’S WORST nuclear disaster happened on this date 28 years ago.

The explosion on 26 April 1986 affected the lives of more than 7 million people.

Twenty eight years later and efforts are still continuing to try to prevent the spread of its deadly radiation.

The Chernobyl disaster happened when an explosion and fire at a nuclear plant released large amounts of radioactive particles.

A new UN Report now states that Chernobyl released over 400 times (and not 100 times as originally quoted) the amount of radiation that was released in the Hiroshima bombing.

The Cork based agency, Chernobyl Children International, has channelled almost €100 million in medical and humanitarian aid to the Chernobyl region since the disaster.

It’s programmes help tens of thousands of people in Ukraine, Belarus and Western Russia.

Exclusion Zone 

There are no inhabitants in the 19km exclusion zone which has been erected around the power plant.

Journalist Tim Seuss visited the exclusion zone in March 2009.

He recorded all around him and his footage shows how the area was left overnight, leaving all around as it were:

 

(Tim Seuss/YouTube)

Ukraine 

An internationally funded construction project was planned to make the still highly unstable Chernobyl nuclear power plant safe for the next 100 years.

A gigantic containment shield, which is the largest moveable structure ever constructed, was due to be placed over the leaking reactor by the end of next year.

However it’s now emerged that this could be delayed by up to two years because of the increasingly volatile situation in strife-torn Ukraine.

Two years ago, on the 26th anniversary of Chernobyl, the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych vowed that Ukraine was committed to building the new shelter.

Ireland contributed €8 million towards the cost of building the gigantic concrete shield or ‘sarcophagus’ over the still leaking reactor.

CEO of Chernobyl Children International Adi Roche said,

“What can never be forgotten is that the destruction caused by the deadly explosion at Reactor No 4 at Chernobyl was triggered by the release of just 3% of the radioactive material in the plant”

The remaining 97% of this enormous ‘ticking timebomb’ of highly unstable nuclear material is still inside the crumbling Chernobyl complex”

Adi Roche has been inside the Chernobyl ‘radiation exclusion zone’ more than 20 times since the 1986 accident.

Chernobyl Heart 

The situation in Ukraine has also forced a life-saving cardiac surgery programme for children with ‘Chernobyl Heart’ to be suspended.

The programme has been in operation for the past 10 years and has saved the lives of thousands of children who were born with genetic heart defects.

Teams of surgeons from the US and Canada travel to Ukraine and Belarus six times a year to operate on the children.

Adi Roche said “At the moment we have teams of surgeons standing by in the US and Canada waiting to travel to Kharkiv but we have been advised that the situation there is so unstable that their safety cannot be guaranteed and that the programme should be suspended for the time being”.

Children born in Belarus since 1986 are affected by a 200 per cent increase in birth defects and a 250 per cent increase in congenital birth deformities.

The disaster has devastated all around it and now the unrest in Ukraine is heightening an already very fragile situation.

Roche said:

Over the years, as other disasters vie for the world’s attention, Chernobyl has been relegated to the realm of history. But the impact of Chernobyl is still very real and very present to the children who must live in an environment poisoned with radioactivity.

Read: How my trip to a children’s mental asylum in Belarus made me proud to be Irish>

Read: ‘A ticking timebomb’: contamination shield at Chernobyl delayed due to Ukrainian crisis>

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