It’s been nearly 30-years since the tragic nuclear meltdown at the former Soviet Union Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine near the Belarus border. The massive amounts of radioactivity spewed during this catastrophe immediately destroyed thousands of lives, and the Soviet government’s inaction and cover-up of the amount of radiation has left thousands more with severe birth defects, cancers, and other life-long disabilities.
The land surrounding Chernobyl was once rich farmland, full of towns and people. Now, the forest has taken over and eerie ghost towns are all that’s left in the evacuation zone, and the massive radioactivity release remains in the water, soil, and flora of the area.
The victims of Chernobyl continue to be born. Young children, born victims to this nuclear tragedy with physical ailments and malformations, leave their homes and travel to Cuba to seek medical treatment. Today, forest fires can rage in tinder dry malformed forests in the evacuated zone spreading radioactive debris worldwide. Chernobyl’s accident has not ended.
The catastrophic meltdown at Chernobyl began 29 years ago today. Please join us in commemorating the lives of those lost and living with the contaminated legacy and ongoing tragedy that is Chernobyl today and will be for decades to come.
Learn more by visiting these related links:
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment
Written by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko and Alexey V. Nesterenko, Edited by Janette Sherman-Nevinger, free pdf download available
Book of the Month:
Award winning author, Peter Eichstaedt uncovers the devastating impact that the US nuclear age has had on the health, land, and culture of the Navajo people who reside on some of the richest uranium deposits in North America.
Working as a senior reporter for Santa Fe’s daily paper the New Mexican, Eichstaedt exposed problems with the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) to bury nuclear waste in salt mines around Carlsbad, New Mexico. When Eichstaedt conducted his research and published in 1994, WIPP had not yet opened as an operational waste site. Eichstadt continued his investigation of the nuclear industry as a professor of English at the Institute of American Indian Arts culminating in the production of this book.
Based in Santa Fe, Eichstadt spent years collecting interviews, and data that reveals the forced sacrifice of a people. Native Americans of the Four Corners, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet, comprised about one-quarter of the miners and millers working in the atomic mills located on the Navajo Reservation between 1950 and 1980. Despite growing evidence that uranium mining was dangerous, unhealthy, and destructive to the environment, state and federal agencies did nothing to protect their workers. Forty years later, after having given up their land under the impression that it was their patriotic duty, the Navajo people have suffered physical, psychological, and cultural devastation with little to no compensation.
“They’re saying you have to die first before you get a [compensation] check,” says Cecil Parrish in an interview translated by his son, Wayne, outside of Cecil’s traditional Navajo Hogan.
Voices From Chernobyl : The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
By Svetlana Alexievich
On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history occurred in Chernobyl. Although this was one of the most devastating tragedies ever, until now, no book has appeared in English giving the inside story of what happened to the people living in Belarus, and the fear, anger, and uncertainty that they lived through. A journalist by trade, Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people in Belarus affected by the meltdown. From residents of Chernobyl to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucial document of what happened and how people reacted to it. Alexievich presents these interviews in monologue form, giving readers a harrowing inside view into the minds of those affected untempered by government spin, detailing the tragedy and devastation.
(Review provided by IndieBound.org)
Fairewinds in the News:
Alexai Rubenstein of WCAX reported on Fairewinds Energy Education’s active role in calling on federal regulators to make Vermont Yankee’s financial decommissioning information open to the public. Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen spoke at Wednesday April 22, 2015 at the Vermont Statehouse to the Senate Committee of Natural Resources and Energy about the lack of oversight on the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Fund.
“There’s no checks and balances. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn’t look and because they’re a limited liability corporation the state can’t look either—and that’s frightening” Arnie told the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee as he walked them through Fairewinds’ new Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund analysis. This report emphasizes that contrary to Entergy’s claims, the dismantlement of the Vermont Yankee plant could begin as early as 2025 and it could be completed by 2032. This decommissioning time is only one quarter of the 60-year timeline Entergy claimed to need to build up the $1.2 billion needed for full decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. Take a look at the full Vermont Yankee decommissioning report here.
The Huntington News featured Fairewinds’ latest interview with Vermont playwright and author Spencer Smith, who created the readers’ play Voices From Chernobyl. Smith was interviewed by Maggie Gundersen, president of Fairewinds Energy Education, in an emotional and moving Fairewinds’ production about the ongoing Chernobyl tragedy. If you didn’t get a chance to watch that video, please do.
CNN Money poses the question, “How close is your home to a nuclear power plant?” Type in your zip code or address and find out by using this Google map on CNN’s website sourced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. You may be surprised to learn that you are within a 50-mile radius of a reactor and would fall victim to radioactivity in the event of any nuclear power disaster or catastrophe.
How much Fukushima Daiichi nuclear waste is stored along the Pacific Coastline? Find out by watching this YouTube video of a drone flying over stacks of nuclear waste currently being stored in Fukushima. These plastic bags contain radioactive soil and debris contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown and now line the coast of the Fukushima prefecture. With a lifespan of only three years, these plastic bags are temporary storage to hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear refuse that currently does not have a final resting place. Bordering the Pacific, these walls of plastic-wrapped radioactivity pose a threat to the ocean should these nuclear garbage bags leak or another tidal wave hit the coast of Japan.
An unidentified drone carrying a small trace of radioactive cesium, believed to originate from the nuclear meltdown site at Fukushima Daiichi, was found on the rooftop of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office on Wednesday. The exact date or time of the drone’s landing is unknown due to the irregular checking by security staff of the roof, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. The mysterious, radiation carrying drone was discovered by staff while giving new employees a tour of the premises. With the recent announcement of a Japanese court’s decision to allow the restart of the Sendai reactor, conspicuously located by multiple active volcanoes, Prime Minister Abe’s pro-nuclear policy received a boost and it would appear that total restart of nuclear reactors in Japan is drawing near. This strange and unusual drone landing has delivered the real product of nuclear energy, radioactivity, to the prime minister’s doorstep exposing nuclear reactors’ vulnerability to drone attack, and delivering a clear message to Abe that with nuclear restart comes real nuclear risk.