The Chernobyl Greater Cause

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

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