Monday April 26, 2021 marked a historic date. Thirty-five years ago, on April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl plant located about 100 kilometers from Kiev exploded at 1:23 a.m. releasing gigantic quantities of radioactive elements into the atmosphere. Very quickly, a large cloud formed over the small Ukrainian town and spread with the winds to contaminate almost three quarters of Europe.
We all keep in mind the images of the ballet of helicopters tasked with plugging the hole created by the explosion by dropping 5,000 tons of sand, clay, lead, boron, borax and dolomite as the radioactive particles leak. at lethal concentrations. We also remember all these technicians dressed in ridiculous suits supposed to protect them, called “liquidators”, who were ordered to collect the highly contaminated debris. A majority will die of cancer in the years that follow.
The KGB and the various members of the Communist Party are doing all they can to minimize the disaster and will only warn the local populations too late. This year, 116,000 people residing around the area will be evacuated, joined in the following years by 230,000 others. Internationally, opacity is essential and exact information is very difficult to obtain. Even today, the number of victims is far from reaching a consensus. When the Russian authorities speak of 20 victims, Greenpeace puts forward the number of 200,000. It is difficult to determine with precision the number of dead, between those who have been killed almost immediately by the disaster, and those who have died over the years. radiation-induced diseases.
To this day, the Chernobyl disaster remains the greatest nuclear tragedy of the twentieth century classified as level 7, the highest level. The Fukushima disaster was also rated level 7 but is far from having caused the same damage to the environment.
The event had significant health, ecological, economic and political repercussions. Five years later, in 2011, Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, declared: "We have not yet fully realized this tragedy"
At the end of 2016, a gigantic waterproof steel arch costing 2.1 billion euros and financed by the international community came to cover the old concrete "sarcophagus", cracked and unstable. It should make it possible to better isolate the highly radioactive magma remaining in the reactor.
Last Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky came to celebrate the official anniversary of this tragedy which remains deeply in people's minds not only in Ukraine but also around the world. He declared at the opening: "The explosion at the Chernobyl power station and its consequences have transformed the world".
On this occasion, he recalled that the scars are still so deep. This is what he was keen to show by continuing "For some it was their whole life ... for others it was the hope that they would leave it all for a few days - and a frightening understanding that 'in fact you had to leave everything behind forever. For some people, Chernobyl represents horrific memories of what they saw with their own eyes, while for others it is shrouded in shame and an attempt to hide the truth. For some, it is a symbol of courage to overcome the consequences of the accident. And for all, Chernobyl is a terrible common lesson and a terrible common tragedy. "
He then expressed the wish to inscribe the site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An exclusion zone always surrounds the site within a radius of 30 kilometers. No human activity is allowed there. And we can see the vegetation which has regained its rights and a dense animal activity has developed there.
Recently, tour operators are offering successful sightseeing tours in the area to thrill-seeking tourists. The high-quality eponymous television series, which aired recently, has largely contributed to this tourist success.
In the end, the disaster made it possible to refresh memories, to inform the youngest and at a time when many countries are choosing nuclear power to produce their energy, it invites the international community, as President Zelensky declared. , to "strengthen nuclear security in order to prevent similar disasters from recurring in the future".