Chernobyl: 30 Years On — PZF Photography

Tony Flood has highlighted a WordPress posting by Krista of an original post by Peter Zarko-Flynn.

The world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl in, what was then, the USSR in the early hours of 26 April 1986 but we did not hear about it in the UK until some days later, when Swedish scientists detected abnormally high levels of radiation in their atmosphere.

Due to the secrecy of the Soviet Union, it took some additional time before the enormity of the accident became apparent, by which time a cloud of radiation had already swept across the north-west coast of England and poured its contaminated rain down upon us.

I still have a vivid memory of sitting in my Politics ‘O’ Level class and my teacher, Mr McLoughlin, talking to us about the reactor burning out of control and how it may sink into the earth. It struck me that this was a disaster beyond anything I had experienced in my life, at that point. And that memory, from a day in my final year of secondary school, has never left me.

I continued to think about Chernobyl over the years but my interest was seriously reignited after I met my husband. His family originally come from Ukraine and he still has close relatives in Kiev, which is only a two-hour drive from Chernobyl. We visited them shortly after we met and, as we sat down for Easter dinner, they told us how they had to flee Kiev for three years due to fears about radiation from the disaster. During that visit, we found out that it was possible to take an official tour of the exclusion zone and we pledged that we would do it on our next visit.

This year, on 26 January 2016, almost 30 years after the disaster, we fulfilled that pledge.

Details of this visit can be found

via Chernobyl: 30 Years On — PZF Photography

We are told that, despite the potential radiation exposure, there are a few women still living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. But this tragedy was so horrific that it is unlikely humans will be able to properly settle back there for tens of thousands of years. I have referred in another blog on this site BELOW to how we should be grateful to have escaped such tragedies. We should be thankful also that we have not found ourselves in a similar plight to that of the McCann family and the SAS officer put in prison for keeping a gun as a reminder of his brave colleagues.

 

3 thoughts on “Chernobyl: 30 Years On — PZF Photography

  1. Tony,

    Thank you so much for posting a link to my photo essay on the Chernobyl disaster and helping to bring it to a wider audience. It was a disaster on a huge scale, leading to the displacement of more than 100,000 people who have never been allowed to return to their contaminated homeland. There were 50,000 people living in Pripyat alone, the town which had been purpose-built to house people working at the reactor, and their families.

    However, as you mentioned, some people refused to leave the zone, or illegally returned shortly after the evacuation and are still living there 30 years on. There is a wonderful documentary called “Babushkas of Chernobyl” which tells the story of these women. It is a fascinating, moving but also uplifting film. It definitely provides an example of humans overcoming adversity in an incredible way. The documentary is available on iTunes. It is subtitled, which I know puts some people off, but it’s well worth viewing.

    In many ways, the disaster acted as a catalyst that propelled the Soviet Union to end the cold war and, ultimately, led to the end of the USSR. Before the disaster, President Mikhail Gorbachev had been facing strong internal political resistance while trying to push through his policies of perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“openness”). While officials initially tried to play down the Chernobyl disaster (which led to a shameful delay in evacuating Pripyat), when Gorbachev finally learned of (or at least admitted) the enormity of the accident – and with the USSR facing international condemnation for the delay in publicly acknowledging the disaster – he said they had to call in world experts to help ensure lessons were learned. This new openness created a domino effect that started to affect all aspects of Russian life.

    Five years after the disaster, Ukraine declared independence from the USSR on August 24, 1991. Independent Ukraine still faces many challenges; economic, political, corruption. For many Ukrainians, because of these challenges and the serious fears of a new Russian invasion (following the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Donetsk), Chernobyl is not, today, perhaps the primary concern many would imagine.

    I hope to return to Ukraine later this year to document more stories – not only of Chernobyl but also the many other challenges facing the country.

    Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your comments have made a big impact one me as did the following excerpt from your site: After visiting the kindergarten at Chernobyl, we travelled on to Reactor No. 4, which exploded during the accident. Many firemen were sent to their deaths trying to contain the fire – their radiation exposure was so massive that many of them died within 14 days, the maximum time humans tend to live following a serious overdose of radiation.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s