Ukraine Marks 22 Years Since Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

I remember when this happened. What a tragic situation.

KIEV, Ukraine — Dozens of mourners gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday to mark 22 years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Holding candles and portraits of relatives, the mourners laid flowers at a memorial to victims of the accident.

Reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl, in what is now northern Ukraine, exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swath of the former Soviet Union and much of northern Europe in the world’s worst nuclear accident. An area roughly half the size of Italy was contaminated, forcing the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people.

President Viktor Yushchenko and other top officials prayed and lit candles before dawn Saturday to mark the precise time the reactor exploded.

At first, Soviet leaders tried to cover up the accident. Only on April 28, after scientists in Sweden detected radioactivity, did the Kremlin acknowledge an accident had occurred. But even then, the traditional May Day parades went ahead and millions filled the streets unaware of the invisible fallout.

“This is a day of the biggest sorrow for us, we all have lost our husbands,” said Olga Kravchenko, 65, crying and holding a portrait of her husband Mykola who was among the first rescuers on the scene after the accident.

In the first two months after the disaster, 31 people died from exposure to radioactivity, but there is heated debate over the subsequent toll. The U.N. health agency estimates that about 9,300 people will eventually die from cancers caused by Chernobyl’s radiation. Some groups, such as Greenpeace, insist the toll could be 10 times higher.

Chernobyl was shut down in 2000 and work is under way on a larger and stronger shelter over the ruins of the exploded reactor.

The reactor containment building is apparently going to have to be rebuilt. It is still leaking radiation and is starting to deteriorate badly.

KIEV, Ukraine — Twenty-two years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, work is under way on a colossal new shelter to cover the ruins and deadly radioactive contents of the exploded Soviet-era power plant.

For years, the original iron and concrete shelter that was hastily constructed over the reactor has been leaking radiation, cracking and threatening to collapse. The new one, an arch of steel, would be big enough to contain the Statue of Liberty.

Once completed, Chernobyl will be safe, said Vince Novak, nuclear safety director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which manages the $505 million project.

The new shelter is part of a broader $1.4 billion effort financed by international donors that began in 1997 and includes shoring up the current shelter, monitoring radiation and training experts.

Ukraine Marks 22 Years Since Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.

Doomed Chernobyl Reactor to Be Buried in Giant Steel Coffin.

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