Chernobyl disaster: 30 years later

Chernobyl disaster: 30 years later

Three decades have passed since the Chernobyl accident, which is the largest catastrophe in the history of nuclear power.

The disaster began during a systems test on April 26б 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant at 01:23 am (MSK).

They plan to stop the reactor and measure the generator performance. But there was a sudden power surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, an exponentially larger spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of steam explosions.  The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere, including isotopes of uranium, plutonium, iodine-131, cesium-134, cesium-137, strontium-90.

There are many versions of the causes of the tragedy, the main versions placed the blame on the power plant operators, or on "deficiencies in the reactor design".

In November 1986, the construction of the concrete sarcophagus around the destroyed reactor number four (Shelter) was completed, and 1,2 and 3 power units of the Chernobyl NPP were re-launched after decontamination. The electricity production was discontinued in 2000. More than 115 thousand people were forcibly evacuated from the thirty-kilometer zone, about 5 million hectares of land were contaminated, hundreds of small settlements were destroyed and disposed using heavy equipment.

Today, the UN General Assembly will hold a special meeting dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, mandated by the resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December 2013. The meeting will be addressed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the 70th General Assembly Mogens Lyukketoft, as well as representatives of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

The General Assembly adopts a resolution every three years. The document is aimed at strengthening international cooperation to rebuild the affected areas and to disseminate information on the impact of radiation contamination. The last time such a resolution was adopted in December 2013, and its updated version will be put to the vote at the end of this year, TASS reminds.

In 2008, the UN Action Plan on Chernobyl was presented, which includes a number of measures aimed at environmental and economic recovery of the affected areas. In 2006, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution proclaiming 2006-2016 the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions.

Last week Philip Grossman's photography exhibition titled 'Chernobyl: Tragedy, Lessons, Hope' was opened at the United Nations headquarters. He spent over 65 days in the Zone of Alienation photographing, filming, and documenting the results of the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident. 

The last major events dedicated to the Chernobyl accident were carried out in 2011 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. Ban Ki-moon visited the disaster area, and the Peace Bell rang at the organization's headquarters.

The scale of the Chernobyl disaster was minimized only by selfless efforts of the experts who were performing their civic duty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"Chernobyl has become a serious lesson for all mankind, and to this day it has severe repercussions on both the environment and human health. The scale of the tragedy could be immeasurably greater, if it were not for the unprecedented courage and dedication of the firefighters, military personnel, experts, medical workers who honorably fulfilled their professional and civic duty. Many of them sacrificed their own lives to save others," the president said in a telegram to the participants in the liquidation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster effects.

"And of course, we bow down before the liquidators-veterans who do not forget about their deceased fellows, support their families, are actively engaged in the much-needed social activities", Putin added.

Politicians should do everything not to allow the lessons of the Chernobyl tragedy to be forgotten, the Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said.

"Thirty years ago, a tragedy happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Naryshkin said in a video message published on the official website of the State Duma. "Modern politicians owe the whole civilization and should do everything to not allow the lessons of Chernobyl to be forgotten," TASS cited him as saying.