On 26th April 1986 reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station underwent catastrophic failure, spewing radioactivity into the environment for 10 or so days. The radiological consequences applied throughout most of Europe, extending as far afield as Britain and Scandinavia. Locally, in the regions of the Ukraine, Russian and Belarus, the radiological situation was very severe, in fact so bad necessitating the immediate evacuation of ninety thousand or more population from towns and villages nearby the stricken Chernobyl nuclear power plant and, as time passed, whole settlements were evacuated, demolished and ploughed into the ground, and more and more stringent controls over foodstuffs and agricultural were imposed. Today the town of Pripyat, once home to 50,000, remains deserted along with the villages and settlements of the Exclusion Zone with the zone itself remaining evacuated save for about 7,500 people who continue to work there.
The Chernobyl catastrophe released one hundred times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet many seem to just dismiss the accident as a part of history and forget what large doses of radiation actually do to human lives. Sadly, focussing solely on the disputed statistics of Chernobyl has dehumanised what happened. The effects of Chernobyl touched millions of people and thousand still endure very visible and painful effects.
Chernobyl became the infamous nuclear accident that devastated the lives of millions of people in Western Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. 25 years on, and the nightmare for thousands of people is still frightening. Greenpeace tells the stories of just a few of those thousands, to bring to light the reality of nuclear energy.
Below are some of the reports produced for the 25th anniversary of the catastrophe and since.
A very good TV drama-documentary is currently (May 2019) being screened about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This recent review from the Guardian review section is pretty fulsome in its praise.
Here are links to the four TV programmes each about 1 hour long. 1 more is forthcoming.
In addition, the new book on Chernobyl “Manual for Survival” has also been receiving many rave reviews.
- A magisterial blend of historical research, investigative journalism and poetic reportage, Kate Brown sets out to uncover Chernobyl’s true medical and environmental effects . . . an awe-inspiring journey. (The Economist)
- This thrilling, frightening book tells the truth about the Chernobyl disaster . . . the most brilliant and essential book on Chernobyl …. (The Irish Times)
- An astonishing unconventional history. (The Times)
- Brown’s page-turner skillfully weaves an original narrative on the long-term medical effects of the Chernobyl disaster… Her capacity to immerse herself and pick up on nuances brings these stories from factory workers, technicians, doctors and villagers alive. (Nature)
- Exemplary … Brown is an indomitable researcher (Luke Harding Observer)
- Full of passion . . . [an] admirable uncovering of the hidden story behind Chernobyl. (The Guardian)
- Vital work, making a convincing case for the catastrophic long-term medical and ecological effects of the disaster (Tobie Mathew Literary Review)
- A troubling book, passionately written and deeply researched … the book moves from science to thriller and realm of conspiracy… there is no doubt about Brown’s gift for vivid narrative. Her conclusion is chilling. (The Sunday Times)
- A magnificent monograph that stands out among the multiple books on Chernobyl simply because it tells us the truth – the whole unadulterated truth – about one of the worst disasters in history. As such, it may itself be regarded as a survival manual of sorts. And a guide to the future, too. (Engineering and Technology)
- an extraordinary and important – if controversial – book. (New Statesman)
About the Author: Dr Kate Brown is the author of Plutopia, which has won seven awards, including the Dunning and Beveridge prizes from the American Historical Association for the best book in American history. She is the first historian of the Soviet Union to be nominated to the honorary Society of American Historians, and her research has been funded by the American Academy in Berlin and by Carnegie and Guggenheim fellowships. She teaches environmental and nuclear history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lives in Washington, DC.
The author is coming to Edinburgh! Come and hear her speak on Friday 19 July 2019 15:00 – 17:00. Room 1.20, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD
Health Effects of Chernobyl 25 Years after the Reactor Catastrophe, IPPNW Germany, April 2011. This paper evaluates studies that contain plausible indications of health damage caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe. The authors of this paper attach importance to the selection of methodically accurate and comprehensible analyses. Due to the already mentioned methodical difficulties, it is not our aim to present the “right” statistics in contrast to the obviously wrong ones given by the IAEA, since these can never be found. They can only supply us with indications as to the diversity and extent of the health effects we should be dealing with when we talk about the health effects of Chernobyl.
German Affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and German Society for Radiation Protection (GfS) Literature Review Health Effects of Chernobyl 20 years after the reactor catastrophe.
The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH) by Dr Ian Fairlie and Dr David Sumner. Greens/EFA April 2006 An Independent scientific evaluation of health and environmental effects 20 years after the nuclear disaster providing critical analysis of a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health, Greenpeace 18th April 2006. Any description which attempts to present the consequences of Chernobyl as a single estimate of excess cancer deaths will inevitably provide a gross oversimplification of the extent of human suffering experienced. In any case the evidence presented here suggests that official estimates may greatly underestimate the scale of impacts.
Chernobyl: A nuclear catastrophe 20 years on by Large & Associates, Greenpeace 24th April 2006. This review considers Chernobyl as it is today and how it might be in future decades. It gives regard to past decisions on how to isolate and cope with the radioactivity and contamination, and it reviews the present approach to management and remediation being undertaken or at various stages of planning for future years.
Fallout: the Legacy of Chernobyl BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast on April 26 and May 1 2011 Comments by Dr Ian Fairlie.