Ukrainian tourist agencies that are craving for extra money hope to attract foreign tourist to the horrible sight of Chernobyl
Chernobyl was the most terrible catastrophe in the sphere of nuclear energy. The point is not even that after the reactor's explosions there were radioactive fallouts even in Sweden. The attempts of the Soviet government to conceal and then to understate the scales of the catastrophe turned out to be more dreadful. The first signs of disaster at the nuclear-powered station in Forsmark, which is 60 miles far from Stockholm, appeared 28 April 1986, when the experts noticed that the level of radiation was unusually high. Experts thought that there had been a leakage at the reactor. However, the results of a thorough check did not prove this supposition. Still the Geiger counters showed that the radiation level was three times higher than normal.
Sweden was one of the European countries attacked by a silent invisible killer that that had neither color nor smell.
Several hours before the events at Forsmark the head of the fire department at the Chernobyl nuclear-powered station Leonid Telyatnikov was relaxing at home. At 1.32 am on 26 April he got a phone call from the duty officer who reported about some kind of incident at the station. Telyatnikov and his team of 29 firemen ran to the station.
Soon they saw a bright red luminescence on the horizon. “I couldn't even imagine what had happened and what was lying ahead,” Telyatnikov recalls. “When we arrived at the station I saw burning ruins. Then I noticed blue luminescence above the ruins of the forth reactor and the fire spots on the surrounding buildings. That silence and blinking lights provoked terrible feeling”.
Telyatnikov protected only with boots and fire helmet stood against the most horrible catastrophe in the history of exploitation of the nuclear-powered stations. Later he was titled Hero of the Soviet Union for his courage.
A partly destroyed nuclear reactor led to the tragedy, which still causes death, suffering and poverty. Thousands of people that remain unknown to us died of different types of cancer and ruined hematopoietic system. Radiation caused mutations in human and animal organisms. Newspapers all over the world published pictures of a foal born with five legs after the catastrophe.
By the time Forsmark scientists discovered high level of radiation in the atmosphere the winds spread it all over Europe.
A slight rain in Brittany turned the milk of the cows in that area into toxic substance. Toxic rains fell in Finland, Sweden and Western Germany. Swedish scientists informed the government that the source of the contamination was located in the Soviet Union according to their calculations. However, communist leaders kept silence.
Only when it became obvious that something had happened the Kremlin admitted that the incident in Chernobyl had taken place. The announcement in the Moscow evening news was as long as several lines: “An accident took place at Chernobyl nuclear-powered station. One of the reactors is damaged. The measures are being taken in order to eliminate the consequences of the incident. Victims were provided with medical help. Special government commission has been created for investigation of the incident”. Nobody explained to the Soviet population how grave and horrible the accident was. Western countries started pressing the Soviet government in order to find out all the details about the accident.
At that time there were few people who realized the seriousnessof the incident.Thosewho were fighting the horrible incident together with Telyatnikov lost the battle with the death afterwards.
Two days after Forsmark became alarmed US president Ronald Reagan was watching photos of the scene taken by the CIA satellite. The scientific officer of the Swedish embassy in Moscow contacted the officials responsible for the Soviet nuclear program. He got a short answer: nobody seemed to dispose of any information.
A few days later Boris Eltsin, then just an average Soviet political figure, made an announcement: “This is all very serious. The reason is probably lying in personal mistake. We are taking all the measures to prevent this from happening again”.
Experts started speculating on the reasons of the catastrophe while Soviet officials refused to ask other countries for help. They were trying to convince the public that nothing terrible had happened.
Moscow was trying to stop the fire with the help of crowds of workers and soldiers. Most of them are now dead while those who are still alive suffer from the consequences of the exposure to radiation.
The fire was stopped by the end of the week, but radiation spread further to Europe and the west of the Soviet Union. The officials were trying to conceal the consequences of the accident. While the rescue operations were going on the US president was showing more and more discontent of the Soviet policy. He demanded the detailed report about the accident and the possible consequences for the whole world.
Scientists called Soviet reactors outdated. They claimed that Russians ignored the safety when not building aconcrete hood that would have stopped the fire and the radiation from spreading further.
Several years of bureaucratic delays were followed by the publication of statistics data. It stated that the number of cancer and blood illnesses cases had grown not only within the radius of 30 kilometers.
Doctor Gale from California, who took part in the medical expertise, predicted the growth of oncological cases as a result of the radioactive precipitations. In Minsk, for instance, the number of patients with leukemia grew two times in five years after the catastrophe.
The economic crises in Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia that followed after the USSR collapse led to the fact that only a part of such patients received the needed medical treatment.
Taking into account contaminated fields and forests, abandoned villages and people that were deprived of their homes, still even worse was the distrust of the population to the Soviet leaders: none of the latter was punished for concealing the information about the accident.
Today Kiev authorities offer to organize tourist routs for all those who would like to see the ruins of the reactor. Local tourist agencies that are craving for extra money hope to attract foreign tourist to this horrible sight. The tour also includes visiting one of the villages where people came back to their homes in spite of the prohibition by the state and the threat to their lives and the lives of their children. The tour costs around £200.
People around the world fear that the tragedy can happen again. They demand closing down the working sector at the Chernobyl nuclear-powered station. However, Ukraine needs great assistance on the part of the international community to do so. Looks like the advanced countries are ready to provide it but are not in a hurry. Meantime, reactors keep on working.