26 April 2017 marks 31 years since the Chernobyl disaster when the explosion destroyed the fourth unit of the nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Most of the radioactive fallout covered the territory of Belarus.
Belarus appeared dangerously close to the reactor. The most affected place on the Ukrainian side was Pripyat, the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union founded on 4 February 1970 to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
About 35% of cesium-137 fallout in Europe affected Belarus. 23% of the country’s territories were contaminated by cesium-137 with more than 37 kBq/m2. The biological half-life of the radionuclide is 30 years.
The highest levels of iodine-131 were recorded in Bragin, Khoiniki, Narovlyansky districts of Gomel region, where its concentration in the soils has amounted to 37000 kBq/sq.m. and more. Iodine contamination in these and other discticts of Gomal and Brest regions led to a significant increase in the thyroid pathologies, especially among children.
In the so-called early period of evacuation 24,725 Belarusians had to leave their homes. Unfortunately, the real scale of the tragedy and the real danger of the nuclear aftermath was disguised by the authorities in April 1986.
One week after the tragedy nothing changed: celebrations and rallies scheduled for 1 May weren’t cancelled, newspapers were writing about labour and spring. “An accident in Chernobyl” was mentioned only in short occasional radio reports.
Belarus was declared the zone of ecological disaster only in July 1990. A year earlier, on April 26 the opposition held the first Chernobyl Way demonstration in Minsk.
In 2016, 30 years after the explosion, the Belarusian zone of radioactive contamination counted 2193 settlements. People living there are surrounded by radionuclides.
The most “dirty” part of Belarus is the Polesie, where every day special guards make sure that the unusual reserve remains closed for the whole world. This territory contains one third of the “Chernobyl heritage”, left to Belarus by the accident.
In 2086, 100 years after the Chernobyl accident, the total activity of the soil in the contaminated regions of Belarus will be 2.4 times higher than in the immediate post-accident period.
Source and photos: TUT.BY