The Greater Chernobyl Cause

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The Greater Chernobyl Cause and its work has featured prominently in both regional, national and international publications over recent years.

Thirty First Anniversary of The Chernobyl Disaster

Chernobyl Commemorative Ceremony 2017


Invisible enemy – radiation – which is the creator of death, serious illnesses and deformities.


Chernobyl was a very old town, first mentioned in official records in 1193. In 1362, it became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569, it was given to the Polish realm, but not until after the second partition of Poland in 1793 did it fall to the Russian Tsar. In 1918, Chernobyl became part of the Soviet Union and was declared a city in 1941.

Since the end of the Soviet Union, Chernobyl has been located within the national boundaries of Ukraine. The town is located in the north of Ukraine, 15 km from the border with Belarus. It is in the region of Kiev, close to where the Pripyat River flows into the Kiev reservoir of the Dnepr. The inhabitants of Chernobyl traditionally made a living from shipping on the Dnepr River, iron smelting, minor agriculture and the production of arts and crafts. The nuclear power station, located on the edge of the Pripyat River 20 km out of town, was built between 1971 and 1977 and was Ukraine’s first nuclear power plant. The first reactor became operational in 1977, generating a power output of one gigawatt. By 1983, the plant had been expanded to include four reactor units, generating a total of four gigawatts. Two further reactor units were planned for construction.

On 26th April 1986, reactor 4 at Chernobyl exploded, spouting tonnes of radioactive material and airborne dust that reached as far as Ireland. In the first four days of May 1986, 161,000 people from within a 30 km radius of the ruptured reactor were evacuated. In the following years, another 210,000 people were relocated. The exclusion zone was extended to an area of 4,300 square km.

The 26th April 2017 will mark the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. This was a human tragedy on an unimaginable scale. The aftermath of this, the world’s worst nuclear disaster have left thousands of people suffering from terminal or chronic illnesses. The children with cancers and debilitating illnesses must be turned every fifteen minutes in excruciating pain. The parents suffer from radiation-related diseases. The elderly have no option but to eat mushrooms and burn firewood from the forests that are so radioactive. In fact, soil samples from these forests are treated as radioactive waste in Western Europe. The President of the Australian Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Professor Tilman Ruff, has estimated that of 8,930 excess cancer deaths in the three most affected countries Ukraine, Belarus and Russia: 4,400-6,600 cancer deaths in the liquidators for whom risk estimates have not yet been made; 5,077-6,769 estimated excess heart-related deaths in all the liquidators; 10,920 excess cancer deaths outside the three worst affected an additional 20% of cancer deaths (4,850-5,290) in future generations. This yields an estimate of 34,200-38,500 deaths.

It does not include deaths from suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, genetic effects or other causes, all of which are significantly increased in the most severely contaminated zones and among evacuees. And it does not include the suffering of those who have not got a fatal illness, but who live in fear that they will die prematurely because of their exposure to radiation. The biggest health problems so far have not been fatal illnesses but mental health problems among evacuees and liquidators.

Some years ago, I met Boris Alishaev, a  local fireman  who was one of the first on the scene after the explosion in the early hours of April 26, 1986, and with his colleagues struggled to try to contain the disaster. Most of them are now dead. He feels fortunate to have survived, but abandoned by a state his team fought hard to protect.  He had hoped that he and surviving colleagues would get some benefits from the Government. Boris went on to say that are not interested. In Ukraine, you have to pay for medical treatment, it is very expensive, and their salaries are much too small.

Reactor N4 now lies eerily silent but 4 will remain radioactive for 1000 years. Estimates of deaths directly attributable to the disaster vary from 4,000 to well over 100,000 and doctors have expressed their concern about an increase in cancers and blood diseases among a new generation of children living on the edge of the strictly imposed exclusion zoned.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine is plagued with problems of family breakdown, poverty and violence.

For me, it is a vivid reminder of a 14-year-old girl I found in a desperate struggle for survival in 2005, Masha, with spinal injuries caused in horrendous circumstances.

She was one of hundreds of children sent out on to the streets to provide sexual favours to earn money to satisfy their parents’ alcohol addictions.

Masha one of many children that we have helped to save.

Maria Mikhailovna and her husband, Victor, decided long ago to defy the advice to stay away from the exclusion zone. They want to spend their final years in their home village of Kopovate. They returned there after the initial evacuation and struggle on hand-to-mouth.

They are one example of several hundred, mainly elderly people, who prefer to live illegally within the exclusion zone. They are tolerated by the government who pay a meagre pension – the equivalent of 70€ a month – and provide food via a mobile shop that visits once a week. Maria told me: “Nobody helps me. I collect a small pension and I go to the mobile shop and buy food there. As for water, I take it from the well. I also grow vegetables in the garden like carrots, beetroot and cabbage, but not much as I’m too old to run the household.”

In one school classroom, I found the pencils and jotters pupils had been using on the day before the explosion.

Those pupils and their families were told that they would be returning to their schools and cities in a few days, they left all their possessions behind. Never to return.

Soviet-era signs still hang from buildings near a rusting fun park and children’s dolls and toys sit forlornly on windowsills gazing out across the deserted streets.

It is haunting to see just how beautiful and pristine the countryside looked with wild horses roaming on the plains, but everywhere there is the invisible enemy – radiation –, which is the creator of death, serious illnesses and deformities.

The way in which the disaster was as awful as the explosion itself. The government allowed children to go outside in areas where rain containing highly radioactive material was falling, - to play on already contaminated land. No help was given to the many victims of the fallout, who are still pleading for medical attention and financial aid, even today.

Chernobyl pulled communities apart, uprooted families and left them without work or their homes. A similar disaster must never be allowed to happen again. The international community has failed the victims of Chernobyl. Not only by downplaying the extent of the human impact, but also by abdicating their responsibility for them and failing to collaborate to take them out of the Chernobyl shadow and give them a better life, what remains of it.

This is where our charity, the Greater Chernobyl Cause, steps in. We can see the obvious problems faced by victims of the disaster, not only in Ukraine but also in other regions, such as Russia and Kazakhstan. Our main emphasis is on providing help and life-saving medical equipment for the long-term victims of the disaster, as well as the growing number of children who every day are being diagnosed with cancer, leukaemia and acute respiratory infections.

Amongst The Greater Chernobyl Cause’s support, it has an emphasis on providing help and lifesaving medical equipment for the long-term victims of the disaster and the growing number of children who are being diagnosed with cancer, leukaemia and acute respiratory infections.  Their hopes depend on more modern equipment to deal with cancers and other illnesses. Already, the Greater Chernobyl Cause has donated several ultra-sound machines, but so much more is needed.

This week marks the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster: The Greater Chernobyl Cause will hold their Chernobyl Commemorative Service at Bishop Lucey Park 26th April 11.30am. All Welcome!

“Let us come together and commemorate the victims of the Chernobyl Disaster. We must ensure that no more Chernobyl’s ever take place again. The only way we can do this is to ensure that nuclear power has no future, whilst investing in renewable alternatives. Those who speak about the benefits of nuclear power should look deeply into the eyes and souls of the innocent victims, generations of alienated and forgotten people. Concluded Fiona Corcoran Greater. Chernobyl. Cause.

We are desperate for assistance as it is my belief that we are the only glimmer of light and harbinger of hope in the darkness and desperation of so many vulnerable people.


If you can afford to support our mission please send whatever you can to:

The Greater Chernobyl Cause

Unit 4 Southside Industrial Estate Pouladuff Rd, Togher, Cork

Phone: 021 4323276    Mobile: 087 9536133

Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)





Altyn Zhurek Award Ceremony




The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan is to award Cork charity founder Fiona Corcoran of the Greater Chernobyl Cause its top honour for her outstanding humanitarian work in the largest landlocked country in the world. Ms Corcoran has flown this week to Almaty in Kazakhstan to receive the Altyn Zhurek which is the first and only award in the Republic of Kazakhstan that recognizes charitable contributions and the implementation of social projects. Fiona is the first individual from the West to be honoured in this way. The Greater Chernobyl Cause is the only Irish charity to work in a vast country larger than Western Europe. With her team of voluntary supporters, she has worked to transform the lives of some of the weakest and most vulnerable children condemned to life in desperate and dilapidated orphanages.

The charity found moving into Kazakhstan a natural progression from its work with victims of the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Power Station in Ukraine. Kazakhstan had been used as the testing ground for 500 nuclear explosions by the Soviet Union over a period of 40 years. These took place within 100 miles of the large industrial city of Semipalatinsk where Ms Corcoran began her work with abandoned babies. Even today, some mothers have a defective gene thought to be caused by radiation and have given birth to babies suffering from cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus (water on the brain). In August of this year the charity opened its newly built hospice in Kazakhstan. The opening is the culmination of years of work transforming what had been described as “a hospice from hell” in the former Soviet republic, thanks to support from donors from every corner of Ireland.

Photos from the event

Cork charity founder transforms ‘hospice from hell’ in Kazakhstan

Saturday, 10th September, 2016 7:10am

Source: The Southern Star.

Fiona Corcora

CORK-based charity, the Greater Chernobyl Cause, is attracting worldwide attention with the opening of a new hospice in Kazakhstan later this month. The opening is the culmination of years of work for the founder of the charity, Fountainstown-based Fiona Corcoran.

The Cork native has helped to transform what had been described as ‘a hospice from hell’ in the former Soviet republic, thanks to overwhelming support from generous donors from every corner of Ireland.

Fiona found elderly patients were forced to sleep on bed springs outdoors, so filthy and dilapidated was the original building in the industrial city of Semipalatinsk. 

‘This in an area where temperatures plummet to minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter,’ she said. ‘The pitiful daily food allowance was just 4 cents per patient and produced little more than watery porridge gruel.’

The Kazak Government granted the charity a piece of land in the grounds of the city’s hospital and it has been equipped with proper dormitories, heating and the very latest medical equipment.

 ‘During the humanitarian aid trip to Kazakhstan, Victor Shine of Cork City Fire brigade and David Hick from UCC Cork will conduct resuscitation up-skilling courses to medical practitioners in the region,’ explained Fiona.

Semipalatinsk is in a region that has long been contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Soviet Union’s 40-year nuclear testing programme. This part of Kazakhstan remains polluted with radioactive materials and the population continues to suffer from this silent menace and grinding poverty.

Fiona said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received for the hospice project.

‘From the bottom of my heart I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of  our supporters who helped us to end the living hell of these poor unfortunate people. We have, together, given them dignity and a sense of worth and well-being in the final years of their lives.’

She said the charity’s operation was crucial. See also



To coincide with the 30th Anniversary of The Chernobyl Disaster, The Greater Chernobyl Cause will send a shipment filled with Humanitarian Aid. It will  leave the Port of Cork bound for the our newly built hospice in Semipalatinsk Kazakhstan.

The aid includes vital hospital equipment, new clothes, therapy aids, household goods, etc. which will also go to the neglected hospitals, homeless shelters, care centres and impoverished villages in Kazakhstan.

As we commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster, it is important to note that the people of Kazakhstan were also involved in the dreaded clean up at The Chernobyl Plant. In fact Leonid Petrovich Telyatnikov, who was born  in  1951, in, Kostanai Kazakhstan, was the head of the fire department at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and led the team of firefighters to the fire at Reactor Number 4 which became the Chernobyl disaster.

Despite the radiological dangers, they had no radiation suits, no respirators, and no working dosimeters. From the results of a blood test, it was estimated he received 4 grays of radiation.

Telyatnikov headed the firefighting effort at Chernobyl Reactor Unit 4 after the explosion on April 26, 1986. At that time Telyatnikov was the chief of military fire prevention at the Chernobyl nuclear-power station. Telyatnikov and his colleagues, a number of those also from Kazakhstan (as these countries were all part of the USSR), ascended the badly damaged and heavily radiation-contaminated roof of Reactor Unit 4 more than once in order to prevent the fires from spreading and endangering Reactor Unit 3. In 1987 Telyatnikov was named a Hero of the Soviet Union. Two of his assistants, Vladimir Pravik and Viktor Kibenok, were given the award posthumously, as they died from acute radiation sickness soon after the disaster.

Telyatnikov continued his service in the Ministry of the Interior of the USSR and, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, in Ukraine.

In 1998, Telyatnikov headed the volunteer fire department of Kiev, and designed the "Junior Firefighter" program.  He died of cancer at the age of 53. On April 26, 2006, the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, a monument was dedicated to him at the Baykove cemetery in Kiev where he is buried.

This 30th anniversary marks the starting point – not the limit – of the Chernobyl catastrophe which continues to unfold even today. Chernobyl is not in the past. Its repercussions are still being felt by some five million people living in areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia who were contaminated as a result of the accident. They have to cope with the ongoing political, social, environmental and health consequences of the disaster.

We must ensure that no more Chernobyl's ever take place again. The only way we can do this is to ensure that nuclear power has no future, whilst investing in renewable alternatives. Those who speak about the benefits of nuclear power should look deeply into the eyes and souls of the innocent victims, generations of alienated and forgotten people.  Whatever the obstacles we encounter along the way, we are certain of one thing … the plight of its abandoned people cannot be forgotten.

They are bereft of everything: we appeal to you to send whatever you can to The Greater Chernobyl Cause Unit 4 Southside Industrial Estate Pouladuf Rd Togher Cork Ph 021 4323276  / 087 9536133. Email:.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Concluded Fiona Corcoran Greater Chernobyl Cause




The Greater Chernobyl Cause, in association with Cork City Council,  held a Commemorative Service at Bishop Lucey park Cork on the 26th of April at 11.30am

The ceremony is an annual one and is symbolic and respectful, remembering those who have lost their lives at the Chernobyl plant, also remembering those who suffer today. The event incorporated poetry readings, an ecumenical service involving various religious groups, a roll call of those who died at the plant and a candlelit vigil.  The service was opened by Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Chris O Leary. Attendees included H.E. Mr. Maxim Peshkov Russian Ambassador to Ireland,  Serhii Romanenko  Chargés d'affaires Ukranian Embassy, City Fathers, personnel from the Navy, Cork City Fire-Brigade, Chamber of Commerce, Defence Force, schools, and the general public.




26TH APRIL 2016


11.30am   Greater Chernobyl Cause Introduction

11.40am   Opening Ceremony Hon. Lord Mayor of        

                   Cork Cllr Chris O Leary

11.50am   Address by H.E. Mr. Maxim Peshkov

                   Russian Ambassador to Ireland

11.55am   Address by Serhii Romanenko

                Chargés d'Affaires Ukranian Embassy

12.00am   Poetry Reading

12.10am   Ecumenical Service

12.20pm   Evgenia.Nesterenko.Trophy

                Recipient   Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai

12.30pm  Goggins Hill Primary  School Choir

12.40pm   Roll Call of Victims of Chernobyl

                     Candle Light

12.45pm   Minute Silence

12.46pm   Last Post-Bugle-Lower Flag to Half Mast

12.56pm   Candle Vigil