On April 26th 1986 the world looked on in horror at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as reactor number 4 had a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions in its core. This dispersed large quantities of radioactive fuel and core materials into the atmosphere and ignited the combustible graphite moderator. The burning graphite moderator increased the emission of radioactive particles, carried by the smoke, as the reactor had not been encased by any kind of hard containment vessel. The accident occurred during an experiment scheduled to test a potential safety emergency core cooling feature, which took place during a normal shutdown procedure.
31 people died as a direct result of radiation poisoning, mainly plant workers and emergency personnel. The effects of this radiation though still greatly affects thousands of people and animals. An area extending 30 kilometres (19 mi) in all directions from the plant is known as the “zone of alienation”. It is largely uninhabited, except for a few residents who have refused to leave. The area has largely reverted to forest. Even today, radiation levels are so high that the workers responsible for rebuilding the sarcophagus that entombs reactor 4 are only allowed to work five hours a day for one month before taking 15 days of rest. Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years!
A few weeks ago my friend Amy called me and mentioned that some children from Chernobyl were staying in my home town (with various host families) and they were having a day at The Fitness Factory,learning circus skills and acrobatics, and would I come along and take some pictures.
The kids were so happy and smiley and it broke my heart to learn that just by being here for 4 weeks, drinking uncontaminated water and eating our food, this would increase their diminished lifespan by 2 years!!!! It didn’t seem like the weight of the world was on their shoulders though as they giggled, bounced, twisted, climbed, balanced and generally thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The charity responsible for bringing them over here is the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, a national charity created in 1992 to help the children of Belarus. This has, over the last three years been extended to help the children of Ukraine also. The charity is made up of 150 Links around the country and their aim is to raise money in order to bring groups of children to their particular area for respite care.
To learn more about the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Charity click here.
To learn more about the Chernobyl disaster click here
Think big and reach for the stars,