Environmental Disaster

The Government

The Soviet government attempted to cover up the incident, however following a great deal of international pressure the full horror of the incident was slowly released. A huge area around the plant was devastated by the explosion and the ensuing radioactive contamination spread over the neighbouring countries. To this day there is little growing where once agriculture was the main occupation of the common man. Further afield cattle still graze on contaminated land thus causing the population to be continuously exposed to radiation via the food chain.

Belarus

As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus lies in the shadow of Chernobyl, the southern border being only 15 kilometers from the plant. The wind direction on the day of the disaster caused the majority of the fallout to be directed towards the Belarussian cities of Gomel and Mogilev. Of the radiation that was released by Chernobyl, over 70% fell onto the population of Belarus resulting in 800,000 children in Belarus and 380,000 in the Ukraine being at a high risk of contracting cancer or leukaemia.

It will be another 24,000 years before the land is safe to grow food free from contamination. The innocent children of Belarus are the victims of this nuclear catastrophe, which will leave a lasting legacy of radioactive contamination.

The Community

 The international community has begun to build a huge hanger like structure, which is to be placed over the crumbling sarcophagus that houses the exploded reactor. The completed structure will be bigger than a football pitch and taller than the Statue of Liberty. The expected cost is many millions of dollars, and is scheduled to be finished in about 5 years. But before that can be done, reactor fuel and radioactive waste buried haphazardly around the site will have to be excavated.

Safeguard

If this construction is successful it should safeguard the site for the next 100 years, although it could take up to 50 years to dismantle the sarcophagus and the estimated 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material still inside it.

In the meantime the reactor continues to leak radiation into the atmosphere and when the wind blows, re-contaminates the land and the people of Belarus. It is vital that charities such as ours continue to work on, to make a difference to the lives of the people of Belarus

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