Follow Countercurrents on Twitter 

Why Subscribe ?

Popularise CC

Join News Letter

Editor's Picks

Press Releases

Action Alert

Feed Burner

Read CC In Your
Own Language

Bradley Manning

India Burning

Mumbai Terror

Financial Crisis


AfPak War

Peak Oil



Alternative Energy

Climate Change

US Imperialism

US Elections


Latin America









Book Review

Gujarat Pogrom

Kandhamal Violence



India Elections



Submission Policy

About CC


Fair Use Notice

Contact Us

Search Our Archive

Subscribe To Our
News Letter

Our Site


Name: E-mail:


Printer Friendly Version

Chernobyl Survivor Warns Of 'Bombshell' In Japan

By Channel News Asia

26 April, 2011
Channel News Asia

TOKYO - A survivor of the Chernobyl disaster says people exposed to radiation from Japan's crippled nuclear plant will spend the rest of their lives fearing the "bombshell" of cancer and other dire illnesses.

Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear calamity and coincides with efforts to stop radiation seeping from the Fukushima plant after its cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

"The Fukushima accident is like the twin brother of Chernobyl," said Pavel Vdovichenko, 59, who had already accepted an invitation from Japanese anti-nuclear groups to join a rally marking a quarter-century since Chernobyl.

"People in the two places have to suffer long-time hardship," Vdovichenko, a Russian, told AFP through an interpreter. "People in Chernobyl suffered from cancer after the accident. A similar thing may happen to Fukushima."

Waiting to see over the coming months and years if their health has been compromised is like living "with a bombshell waiting to explode" for people who lived close to the ageing Fukushima Daiichi plant, he said.

Yet a generation after the disaster in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, experts still disagree on the true extent of the effect on health, with estimates ranging from tens of thousands of fatal cancers to far fewer.

There have been no deaths as a direct result of leaking radiation from the Fukushima facility in Japan's northeast, but the government has evacuated 85,000 people from homes nearby and set up an exclusion zone.

The plant was rocked by a series of explosions and radiation has leaked into the air, ground and sea in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Vdovichenko saw first-hand the long-term harm that Chernobyl had on local people. He lived -- and still lives -- in Bryansk, 180 kilometres (110 miles) from the plant and one of the areas worst affected by the 1986 catastrophe.

"People suffered a collapse of the economy," said the former history teacher who founded "Radimichi for the Children of Chernobyl", a support group for the most vulnerable victims.

"Companies went bankrupt. Agriculture has fallen apart. There is nowhere to work," he said. "People had no choice but to eat berries and animals from the woods and fish from the rivers and lakes, which were all contaminated."

"Of course I have fears," he said of his decision not to flee the stricken area. "I have problems with my thyroid, but it is my hometown. I try not to think of my health."

Vdovichenko said people who were resettled from the areas closest to Chernobyl faced discrimination from others who thought radiation was contagious.

"People did not want to come close to people from the contaminated zone," he said, adding that students from the region were told to study at desks isolated from others in their classrooms.

In Japan, the government has also urged people not to discriminate against the evacuees following reports that some hotels had turned people from the Fukushima area away and that children had been bullied.

Japan has placed the disaster on the maximum seven on an international scale of atomic crises, the same level as Chernobyl, and the troubles at Fukushima have prompted many questions about whether atomic power is too great a risk.

But while both incidents have the same rating, Japanese government officials have stressed that the total radiation released from Fukushima is around one-tenth of that from Chernobyl.

Another difference is that the Fukushima accident was triggered by a natural disaster -- the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that left more than 26,000 people dead or missing -- while Chernobyl was blamed more on human error.

As Japan struggles to contain its disaster and Ukraine works on a giant shelter to secure Chernobyl's ruined reactor, Vdovichenko warned another nuclear crisis may occur elsewhere if lessons are not learned fast.

"Some people in the world may say Chernobyl is over, but this is wrong," he said. "The Fukushima accident occurred after people failed to resolve Chernobyl. If people fail to resolve the two cases, a third one will come.

"The victims of Chernobyl and those of Fukushima need to work together. We need to make an effort to make sure there are no more nuclear disasters like this."

© 2011 Channel News Asia



Comments are not moderated. Please be responsible and civil in your postings and stay within the topic discussed in the article too. If you find inappropriate comments, just Flag (Report) them and they will move into moderation que.