Thirty years since Chernobyl

An abandoned town close to Chernobyl.

It has been 30 years since the catastrophic nuclear disaster that occurred in Chernobyl. The Ukraine is holding commemorations to mark this symbolic day. 

The first explosion at the nuclear reactor occurred in the early hours of 26 April 1986 with the ensuing meltdown a the plant the worst nuclear disaster in history. The nuclear reaction blew the roof of the plant with a cloud of radioactive material flowing out and spilling into the neighbouring countries of Russia, Belarus and parts of northern Europe. 

A series of events are being held today across the area, with relatives of victims holding candle-lit vigils at churches. One such vigil will be held at Slavutych, a town built especially to house workers who lived too close to the plant after the explosion. 

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine President attended one ceremony in Kiev, where a minute’s silence was observed and where he laid a wreath at a memorial to the victims. 

The president is then heading north to the site of the plant itself for another ceremony. The plant, in certain areas, still sees substantial radiation.

A man who had been working at Chernobyl at the time of the disaster, Vasyl Markin, was at the service in Slavutych.

He said: “This tragedy will stay with us till the end of our lives. I won’t be able to forget it anyway.” 

There are still reports of high levels of cancer in the area and babies being born with deformities. 

There are still fears over Chernobyl and the fact the aging reactor could collapse, spilling yet more nuclear waste in to the atmosphere. 

World donors have been pledging money, currently at a huge total of €87.5m, towards the building of a new underground waste facility in the region. The storage of nuclear waste is a problematic issue in which nuclear scientists have been struggling to solve for years. 

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