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Ukraine marks 30th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster

26 April 2016 8:22


People in Ukraine have marked the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the now-defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko will attend a memorial ceremony near the site of the plant on Tuesday. A church service will also be held in the capital, Kiev, for the families of the victims of the nuclear disaster.

Another memorial service is scheduled on Tuesday at the town of Slavutych, which was built to house the workers who lived near the nuclear plant.

On April 26, 1986, an explosion ripped through reactor Number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The plant burned for 10 days.

The explosion led to a huge radioactive leak, which permanently affected areas in places across three quarters of Europe. Levels of radioactivity still remain high in some areas.

Pripyat, the town inhabited by Chernobyl workers, had been evacuated 36 hours after the accident and a 19-mile exclusion zone was set up around the plant a few days later.

Thirty workers and firemen were killed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and rescue operations. Most of them died of severe radiation-related illnesses.

After thirty years, the total number of the people who died of radiation poisoning and the long-term health effects of the accident remain a matter of dispute. A report published by the United Nations in 2005, estimated that “up to 4,000” people could eventually be killed from radiation in Ukraine and neighboring Russia.

Some former residents of Pripyat returned to the site of the explosion on the eve of the anniversary.

A former resident of Pripyat recalled, “We were told to take some provisions for three days only, because the city would be cleaned and then we could return. No one expected they would never come back.”

More than 200 tons of uranium remain inside the damaged reactor at the plant. Fears that the sarcophagus that was hastily built was cracking provoked more than 40 countries across the world to allocate 2.1 billion euros for the creation of a new 25,000-tonne steel protective barrier in 2010.

The G7 group of world powers and the European Commission area also expected to allot about 165 million euros to complete the construction of the giant arch. The structure, which is being fitted out with high-tech equipment, is expected to be able to decontaminate the dangerous material inside.

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