INTERNATIONAL CHERNOBYL REMEMBRANCE DAY
Every year on April 26th, International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of this historic nuclear accident. The day also focuses on the prevention of future nuclear disasters.
On April 26th, 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history took place. The horrific event occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine. This disaster occurred during a safety test on one of the nuclear reactors at the power plant. A combination of human error and poor design caused the explosion, which resulted in a fire that burned for nine days. The radiation released into the air contaminated 150,000 square miles in three countries: Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The radioactive cloud also contaminated food sources throughout Europe.
Human and Financial Cost
Two workers died from the explosion. Twenty-eight firefighters and emergency responders died within the next three months from radiation exposure. A UN study points to the disaster as a possible cause of thyroid cancer in 20,000 children. Over 300,000 people that lived near the nuclear power plant had to relocate. An increase in suicide rates, depression, and post-traumatic stress is also correlated to the accident.
Throughout the years, the total cost for the disaster has reached $700 billion. Thes costs include:
- The amount of damage the disaster caused
- Sealing off the nuclear reactor
- Health care to those exposed to radiation
- Resettlement of people who lived nearby.
- Research to make contaminated food safe again
- Cleanup and disposal of radioactive waste
- The loss of power from the nuclear plant
Unfortunately, the Soviet government took four years to realize the need for international assistance. In 1990, the UN made a resolution to help with the recovery process. In 1991, the UN created the Chernobyl Trust Fund. The fund’s primary purpose was to expedite financial contributions toward Chernobyl activities, which included financial relief for victims.
HOW TO OBSERVE
On this day, Member States of the UN, along with international organizations, are encouraged to raise awareness of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and the risks of nuclear energy. People around the world also remember the victims of the worst nuclear disaster in history. Others travel to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This area allows visitors the chance to experience the ghostly atmosphere in the city of Pripyat, where the disaster took place.
You can participate in the observation of this day by learning more about the Chernobyl disaster and how it still affects people and the environment. There are also several documentaries on the event. Some of the best documentaries include Chernobyl Heart, The Russian Woodpecker, and Chernobyl: Two Days in the Exclusion Zone. Share this important day on social media with #ChernobylDisasterRemembranceDay.
On December 8, 2016, the UN adopted a resolution to designate April 26th as International Chernobyl Remembrance Day.