Chernobyl – a monument to the perils of secrecy

Chernobyl has been the subjects of repeated exposes and cover-ups ever since the explosion occurred in 1986. It will not be laid to rest until the entire story is completely known.

That may not happen in our time, but the internet and weblogs are an irresistible combination of forces that brings that day ever closer.

In earlier posts I have touched upon the earliest cover-ups by the Russians, the UN, and others who sought to make the incident fade from view. More open communications might have prevented the accident in the first place, and would have certainly saved thousands of lives in the period immediately afterwards. Enough time has passed so the all details of the story need to be known so this never happens again.

Early last year, a young motorcyclist named Elena took an extraordinary series of photographs of the area around Chernobyl and brought the world’s attention back upon this dimly remembered nuclear accident. The haunting images of abandoned schoolrooms and children’s toys stood in stark contrast to miles of empty roads with grass growing through cracks in the pavement and herds of wild horses.

Her photo essay is so powerful that it more than made up for any mistakes she made in initially claiming she made the entire tour on a motorcycle. She apparently toured Prypyat on a commercially available guided tour. The important fact is that she was there and took photos which have galvanized world interest in an event which many hoped the world would forget. She has revisited the area again and continues to update her site. It is well worth revisiting.

GHOST TOWN – Chernobyl Pictures – Elena’s Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl.

UPDATE:  Now you can tour Chernobyl and write your own story.

In the interest of shedding more light on this complex story, I found a series of 394 photographs of Chernobyl, on a site which documents the various Chernobyl initiatives in more detail. Here is a quick summary:

April 26, 1986, Chornobyl’s Unit 4 reactor exploded during a test of
the plant’s turbine-generator system. The reactor core was destroyed.
The explosion and subsequent fires dispersed large amounts of
radioactive material in the form of gases and dust particles. Thermal
plumes as high as 10 kilometers (6 miles) carried this material across
portions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Smaller amounts were
transported to western Europe, and fallout was detected in the United

Chornobyl’s Unit 2 reactor was shut down five
years later after a serious turbine building fire. Unit 1 was closed in
November of 1996. The plant’s remaining reactor, Unit 3, is still
operating. This reactor provides urgently needed electricity in a
country with a fragile economy and uncertain power supplies.

Safety problems, however, have led the
international community to call for complete and permanent closure of
the Chornobyl plant.

In December 1995, Ukraine signed a memorandum
of understanding with the G-7 countries to close the Chornobyl plant by
the year 2000. As part of that memorandum, the G-7 countries agreed to
help remediate current risks at Chornobyl, support energy efficiency
and help alleviate the socioeconomic impacts of Chornobyl’s closure.
Other projects include the establishment of a research center in the
nearby town of Slavutych and efforts to upgrade the unstable "shelter"
around the destroyed Unit 4 reactor.

Here are some of my earlier posts on this subject:

Revisiting Hell – Chernobyl on a motorcycle

Elena revisits Chernobyl – again

More Pictures of Chernobyl

Chernobyl – digging deeper

Chernobyl Anniversary – when will we come to closure

There are continuing
health hazards in the Chernobyl region and the toll on human and animal
life is still not clearly defined. It is not a topic for sensational
exposes or scare tactics, but it needs to be thoroughly examined and
results honestly published if we are ever to be able to understand the
ramifications of this disaster. Even more important, we need to
minimize the chances of this ever occurring again.

has been one of the most frequently visited topics on my site. To make
it easier to find more information, I have created a Chernobyl category.

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