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.

We Must Never Forget the Horror of Chernobyl

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Fiona Corcoran, Chief Executive of the charity The Greater Chernobyl Cause, recounts the damage done, and says we must make sure such a tragedy cannot be repeated.

This was a human tragedy on an unimaginable scale. On April 26, 1986, at 1.23am, the world’s worst nuclear disaster took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Northern Ukraine. The people of Chernobyl were exposed to radiation 90 times greater than that from the Hiroshima bomb.

The aftermath of this, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, has left thousands of people suffering from terminal or chronic illnesses. The children with cancers and dehabilitating illnesses must be turned every 15 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 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 there have been 8,930 excess cancer deaths in the three most affected countries, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. There have been 4,400 to 6,600 cancer deaths among the liquidators for whom risk estimates have not yet been made; 5,077 to 6,769 estimated excess heart-related deaths for all the liquidators; 10,920 excess cancer deaths outside the three worst affected countries, and there will be 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. Chernobyl pulled communities apart, uprooted families and left them without work and /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 the failure to collaborate and take them out of the Chernobyl shadow to give them a better life, what remains of it.

In the words of Kofi Annan:

“Chernobyl is a word we would all like to erase from our memory. It opened a Pandora’s Box of invisible enemies and nameless anxieties in people’s minds, but which most of us probably now think of as safely relegated to the past. Yet there are two compelling reasons why this tragedy must not be forgotten. First, if we forget Chernobyl, we increase the risk of more such technological and environmental disasters in the future. Second, more than seven million of our fellow human beings do not have the luxury of forgetting. They are still suffering, every day, as a result of what happened. Indeed, the legacy of Chernobyl will be with us, and with our descendants, for generations to come.”

Fiona says:

On one of my visits, standing at the 30 kilometre checkpoint, I was surprised at just how beautiful and pristine the countryside looked with wild horses roaming on the plains but then I had to remind myself that everywhere around there was an invisible enemy - radiation- which is the creator of death, serious illnesses and deformities.

Equally shocking was my visit to the now deserted and ghostly city of Pripyat which had been built to house many of the plant’s workers and their families. In all, 50,000 people were evacuated. Imagine, they were told they would be returning in a few days, they left all their possessions behind. In one school classroom, I found the pencils and jotters pupils had been using on the day before the explosion. Government officials were totally irresponsible: they allowed the children to go outside when rain was falling from the sky and knowing that the land was contaminated.

We must ensure that no more Chernobyls 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. Chernobyl and the plight of its sick children cannot be forgotten. The legacy of Chernobyl will be with us and our descendants for decades to come.

I am appealing once again to the Irish tradition of spontaneous giving, even in these hard economic times here at home. Our work must continue. I urge you to make a donation now so that more lives can be saved. Your support however small, whether monetary, service or support will be very much appreciated.


§  Donations can be made at www.greaterchernobylcause.ieor to The Greater Chernobyl Cause Unit 2, Southside Industrial Estate, Pouladuff Road, Togher, Cork. Fiona can be contacted on 021 4323276 or 087 9536133.