Ukraine marks 29 years since Ch­er­nobyl dis­as­ter

The China Post - - ARTS LIFE -

Ukraini­ans on Sun­day marked 29 years since the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear dis­as­ter, plac­ing wreaths and can­dles near the plant where work to lay a new seal over the re­ac­tor site has been de­layed.

The ex­plo­sion of re­ac­tor num­ber four on April 26, 1986, spewed poi­sonous ra­di­a­tion over large parts of Europe, par­tic­u­larly Ukraine, Be­larus and Rus­sia.

At 1:23 a.m. (2223 GMT Satur­day), the ex­act time of the ex­plo­sion, hun­dreds of peo­ple placed flow­ers and can­dles in the dark at the foot of a mon­u­ment in Slavu­tych, a town 50 kilo­me­ters (30 miles) from the plant.

Slavu­tych was built to re­house Ch­er­nobyl work­ers who had lived near the plant and were forced to move fur­ther away af­ter the dis­as­ter.

At the site of the plant it­self, around 100 kilo­me­ters from Kiev, Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko laid a wreath at a mon­u­ment to the vic­tims.

The hu­man toll of the dis­as­ter is still dis­puted.

United Na­tions ex­perts of­fi­cially rec­og­nized 31 deaths among plant work­ers and fire­fight­ers di­rectly linked to the blast.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal group Green­peace has sug­gested there would be around 100,000 ad­di­tional can­cer deaths caused by the dis­as­ter.

The Soviet au­thor­i­ties of the time dis­patched hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple to put out the fire and clean the site, with­out proper pro­tec­tion.

They hastily laid over the re­ac­tor site a con­crete cover dubbed “the sar­coph­a­gus,” which is now crack­ing and must be re­placed.

A spokesper­son for U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon said in state­ment: “We stand in sol­i­dar­ity with the mil­lions who have been trau­ma­tized by lin­ger­ing fears about their health and liveli­hoods.”

The U.N. Ac­tion Plan on Ch­er­nobyl will come to an end on Dec. 31 and so U.N. of­fi­cials have ini­ti­ated a se­ries of con­sul­ta­tions “to de­fine the vi­sion for post-2016 in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion,” it added.

Ban called for “a for­ward-look­ing strat­egy de­signed to fur­ther help the re­cov­ery of the af­fected ar­eas and to work to­gether for greater nu­clear safety world­wide.”

Poroshenko on Sun­day in­spected on­go­ing work on a new 20,000-tonne steel cover — a project es­ti­mated to cost more than two bil­lion eu­ros ( US$2.2 bil­lion; NT$66.38 bil­lion).

It is fi­nanced by in­ter­na­tional dona­tions man­aged by the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment (EBRD).

The struc­ture will con­tain tech- nol­ogy that will act be­neath the cover to de­con­tam­i­nate the area once the steel layer is in place. Of­fi­cials say the new cover will last for 100 years.

The work is be­ing done by No­varka, a joint ven­ture by French com­pa­nies Vinci and Bouygues.

Poroshenko said the new cover would “pro­tect for­ever” against ra­di­a­tion from the site.

The work had been sched­uled for com­ple­tion by the end of this year but the EBRD said last year tech­ni­cal prob­lems would de­lay un­til late 2017.

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AP

1. A rel­a­tive of a Ch­er­nobyl vic­tim places a photo near the mon­u­ment erected in mem­ory of the vic­tims of the Ch­er­nobyl ex­plo­sion in Ukraine’s cap­i­tal Kiev, Sun­day, April 26. 2. An or­tho­dox priest blesses those who died af­ter the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear dis­as­ter, dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the me­mo­rial to Ch­er­nobyl fire­fight­ers in the city of Slavu­tich, Ukraine, Sun­day. 3.Ukraini­ans holds can­dles to com­mem­o­rate those who died af­ter the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear dis­as­ter, dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the me­mo­rial to Ch­er­nobyl fire­fight­ers in Slavu­tich, Sun­day.

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