April 26th marks the 27th anniversary of the devastating accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
The radiation released into the atmosphere by the exploding nuclear reactor found its way across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and large parts of Europe.
The contamination still lingers in many places - the disaster has a legacy that continues even now.
So today, we remember those who died in the Chernobyl accident and those who must still live with the terrible after effects of the radioactive contamination that still blights their lives.
Chernobyl should have been the world’s last nuclear accident. Enough of us shouted “NO MORE CHERNOBYLS!” But those with the money and the power and that strange ability to put profits before the protection of people carried on regardless.
And sure enough, in March 2011, a quarter of a century after the horror of the Chernobyl disaster, we watched on as Japan suffered earthquake, tsunami, and then nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The warnings of Chernobyl had not been heeded. The warnings that the Fukushima nuclear reactors were vulnerable were not heeded. Once again it was the people, not the nuclear industry that paid the price.
The comparisons between Chernobyl and Fukushima are stark. Thousands upon thousands of people displaced from their homes to face uncertain futures. Melted reactors too dangerous for humans to approach for decades. Homes, schools, soil, food and water contaminated. Uncertainty about the long-term effects of the radiation that has spewed into the environment. Fear and anxiety that will creep across generations.
So today we remember both Chernobyl and Fukushima. There should never have been another Chernobyl. There should never be another Fukushima. Let us shout “NO MORE CHERNOBYLS AND FUKUSHIMAS” until we are heard.
It’s time we all stopped paying the price for nuclear power’s mistakes.
You can help by signing our petition to make the big, rich companies that supply nuclear reactors part of the responsibly for nuclear disasters that now rests with nuclear operators.
Companies like GE, Hitachi and Toshiba that supplied the flawed reactors at Fukushima should pay some of the costs. Right now they don’t have to. Making them more responsible for the costs of a nuclear disaster would at least help reduce some of the mistakes that lead to accidents.
It’s time to make the entire nuclear industry face its moral and financial responsibilities. It’s time to think of people not profits.
(Image: October 2005, Chernobyl. Remains of a fairground in the town of Pripyat, left abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 10/24/2005 ©Greenpeace/Steve Morgan)