The Korea Herald


Chernobyl lessons, 25 years on


Published : May 1, 2011 - 18:39

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The recent tragic events at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have forced the international community to re-analyze the safety of nuclear power stations.

And 25 years on, the Chernobyl catastrophe remains the worst ever nuclear plant disaster, said Volodymyr Belashov, the Ukrainian ambassador to Korea.
Aftermath of Chernobyl disaster Aftermath of Chernobyl disaster

“Several dozens of firefighters, plant workers and reporters died from the affects of radiation shortly after the accident, thousands died during in the following years. About 5 million people suffered, more than 145,000 square kilometers of the terrain and 5,000 settlements in Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian territories were contaminated,” said Belashov.

The cost of dealing with the problem will continue to hamper Ukraine’s economic development.

“It will take dozens of years to eliminate them,” he told The Korea Herald. “This is why further support from the international community is much needed; and this is why special accounts were opened in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for country donations with the money from the contributors to be used for the realization of the Chernobyl projects.“

Ukraine needs nearly $1 billion to finalize the Chernobyl projects “out of which we consider as a priority to construct a so called New Safe Confinement and an Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility.”

On April 19 in Kiev, the EBRD helped organize a conference that raised $815 million. Korea pledged $207,000.

On the same day, 17 heads of states and governments and leaders of international organizations expressed their belief that efforts to enhance nuclear safety and security have to continue to be a top priority in nuclear energy use.

“The declaration adopted at the (Kiev Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy) underlines the world community’s modern approaches to safe and innovative use of nuclear energy,” said Belashov.

Furthermore, the declaration is also aimed at developing better mechanisms and practical instruments to avoid disasters at nuclear power stations like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

“We emphasized that the most effective way in this field is to channel international cooperation through the innovative use of nuclear energy that is to become a dominant precondition to secure a global regime of operating security and safety for all the states with no exception,” he said.

“The Chernobyl lesson is a horrible experience but at the same time it is not only a warning for Ukraine but for other nations as well. The main conclusion is that such a disaster should not happen again,” he said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (