Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

On Saturday the 26th of April 1986 reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant overheated and exploded sending a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. The health, prosperity and dreams of hundreds of thousands of people were irrevocably changed as their world fell into the shadow of Chernobyl’s nuclear poison.

60-70% of this fallout settled onto the sleepy and innocent agricultural lands of Belarus to the north. An estimated 700,000 children currently live on contaminated land. These children, the children of Chernobyl, will continue to suffer for 24,000 years, the time it will take for the land to be clear of radiation.

The Effects

The effects of the radiation spread across the landscape remains devastating to this day.

  • The land, once the bread basket of Europe, is contaminated and the crops grown have radiation in them. They cannot be sold and most are consumed locally, leading to further health problems, poverty and depression.
  • Huge rise in general health problems across the contaminated region:
    • 1 in 4 of all infants in Belarus will develop thyroid abnormalities. The normal rate of thyroid cancer would be only one in one million. Children and teenagers are most at risk of developing thyroid cancer. After the operation that is needed for children suffering from thyroid cancer, the children have a permanent scar that marks them as Chernobyl victims, known as the “Belarusian necklace”.
    • Significant increase in the cases of other cancers such as leukaemia.
    • Significant increase in the cases of disorders of the nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, disorders of bone, muscle and connective tissue and diabetes.
    • Significant increase in the cases of birth deformities.
  • Time has stood still since 1986 as many of the families are still living in wooden houses with no running water and an outside toilet
  • Not much protection with snow on the ground for 5 months of the year and temperatures getting to -30°C. The families often feel that the world has forgotten them.