More than 30 years after the Prippeat Ukrainian city was exposed to the Chernobyl disaster, the power plant is still out of service and the area remains a forbidden place. Even so, the effects of the biggest disaster in history continue to haunt those living in nearby localities. Still born children with immune deficiency or heart disorders, doctors say. And among adults, cancers, cardiovascular and thyroid diseases are elevated.
Many children with disabilities live in the Center for Infirm Children in Vesnova, near Glusk, Belarus. The dormitory is not located very far from radiation-contaminated areas, which are believed to have caused large scale malformations throughout the area.
Immediately after the catastrophe, the 50,000 inhabitants of the nearest town near Prippeat were evacuated urgently in just three hours in a major government operation. Even so, more than two weeks after the disaster, the reactor continued to emit radiation, despite attempts to stop them. Reactors 1, 2 and 3 were recommenced between 1986 and 1987, and Chernobyl produced nuclear power by December 2000.
How great was the Chernobyl radiation in Romania
On April 26, 1986, at 1.23 pm at the Chernobyl Power Plant, the largest nuclear accident occurred in the history of mankind, followed by the radioactive contamination of the surrounding area. A cloud of radioactive rainfall headed for the western parts of the Soviet Union, Europe and the eastern parts of North America. Large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were heavily contaminated, with about 336,000 people being evacuated. How great the irradiation in Romania can not be accurately appreciated, especially the Soviet side wanted to minimize the accident in the first phase.
According to the estimates of the international program for monitoring the effects of the Chernobyl accident on health (IPHECA), initiated by the World Health Organization, the amount of radioactive material released to the environment was 200 times higher than that resulting from the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki . It was estimated that the total amount of xenon, half that of cesium and iodine and 5% of the rest of the radioactive elements present in the reactor were thrown into the atmosphere.
Most contaminated the neighboring area of the Nuclear Power Plant, while low-density gases were originally carried along the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and, to a lesser extent, in Scandinavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia , Austria and southern Germany. In the last few days, due to the change of wind direction, the countries of the southern continent were mainly affected: Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
In Romania in 1986, the population found out late what happened in Chernobyl. Five days after the accident, the Soviets held the Romanian authorities still "in the fog". On April 30, the wind direction from Kiev had suddenly changed and the radioactive cloud that had already swept the north of the European continent had reached the Romanian territory. Nearly a week after the Chernobyl explosion, even the "1 May Worker", the Political Executive Committee of the PCR Central Committee met in an emergency meeting to discuss the effects of the catastrophe in Romania, wrote Cotidianul in 2008, which has first published the verbatim report of that meeting. An "epochal" meeting at which Ceausescu decided to inform the population of the areas affected by the radioactive cloud by only half, and to form a control committee on the case, led by the "world-famous scientist" Elena Ceausescu. But in the meantime the population had gone to green grass and had spent in nature, taking advantage of the free days of May 1.
After May 2, people were advised to thoroughly wash fruit and vegetables or avoid children's outbreaks in large spaces.
Later, a campaign was launched in schools where the students were given the "antidote" – a dose of iodine. Iodine had become an intense search for those days. At pharmacies and polyclinics, where they were distributed free, the well-known queues no longer surprised anyone. The rumors, typical of a lack of official information, were drawn to panic proportions.
Thyroid cancer, largely attributable to Chernobyl radiation
According to independent sources, thyroid cancer would have affected about 100,000 inhabitants in the areas affected by the radioactive cloud. Also, the increased number of leukemia illnesses is attributed to the same phenomenon.
Endocrine system disorders, especially thyroid gland, diabetes, eye problems – Increased number of cataract cases with early onset, various immune system disorders – decreased resistance to infections and increased allergic disease, especially in children – , cardiovascular problems, increased blood pressure prevalence, decreased fertility, or birth defects, all of which have been attributed to the Chernobyl accident.
How can we protect ourselves from the effects of radiation
After the Chernobyl accident, the Romanians learned how to protect themselves from radiation. The main antidote in such cases is potassium iodide. But potassium iodide only protects the thyroid. It does not prevent the entry of radioactive iodine into the body by inhalation or by contaminated food. It does not protect other parts of the body other than the thyroid and does not prey the thyroid to other radioactive components other than iodine, such as cesium for which there is no antidote. Also, drugs have no retroactive effect, so once exposed to radioactive iodine, the thyroid will not recover after treatment with potassium iodide. A dose of potassium iodide is effective for 24 hours.
"In case of serious contamination, there should be specialized clinics. Irradiation may be external or internal to the body. Body washing and clothes removal are useful for external irradiation. Once they have absorbed radiation in the body, these measures no longer help. Intensive care is required here by monitoring contamination. Specialized centers are needed for this because we can isolate them if the manure is thrown into the canal and not a special decontour, "explains Professor Victor Voicu. Unfortunately, Romania does not have such specialized centers.