Belarus has the horrible distinction of being the country
most affected by the worst peace time nuclear accident in history.
The following lists summarize some of the repercussions of the
nuclear power plant disaster at Chornobyl, Ukraine, on April 26-28,
1986. Needless to say, not everyone agrees to the figures cited
in the following; nonetheless, they give a general idea of the scope
of the disaster:
The amount of contamination has been compared to from 200 to 230
times that emitted by the bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Japan, in 1945.
Over seventy percent of the fallout fell on Belarus.
Over twenty percent of Belarus land (2300 square miles, one-half
which is agricultural) is seriously contaminated.
One-half million people had to be relocated.
Millions have been seriously exposed to radiation (approximately
one-fifth of the population).
The occurrence of thyroid cancer in children has increased
100-fold in Belarus, 30-fold in Ukraine, and so far, leukemia has
The number of thyroid cancer cases increases by 130-140 every year in Belarus. source: the BelaPAN News Service, December, 11, 1997.
The genetic future of the Belarusian people is questionable as
well, as a result of the damage. See Nature magazine
(UK), April, 1996, for results of a recent study.
Gennady Antsipov, chief of the Department for Rehabilitation of Contaminated Areas of the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations, stated that radioactively contaminated houses and buildings had been demolished and dumped only in 170 of the 496 villages from which all inhabitants had been evacuated. Source: BelaPAN, No. 27; Tuesday, April 7, 1998; 7:40 p.m.
Social and psychological affects of the disaster are only
beginning to be considered. Some speculate these areas bear the
majority of the costs of the disaster.
Approximately ten to twenty percent of the national budget
relates to dealing with the effects of Chornobyl; an extreme
burden for Belarus, and a huge distraction from other matters in an
An incredible amount of the human and economic resources of Belarus
will have to deal with the effects of this disaster for many, many
years to come.
The article includes ". . .excerpts and illustrations from the
Footprint [Trace] of the Black Wind (Mensk 1995), [that] were produced by Belarusian school children in response to a competition on the theme 'Chernobyl in my destiny.' The writing by children from within or near the 30 kilometre exclusion zone expresses their confusion, grief and sense of loss at their evacuation from their homes. Children from further afield, in areas officially declared safe, discovered only three years later the true extent of the disaster and the damage to their lives."
"U.S. Congress: Hearing on the Legacy of Chornobyl--1986
to 1996 and Beyond, the official transcript of the public
hearing before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in
Europe (Helsinki Commission) is now located on the Publications
Section of the Commission's homepage. . . .
(Testifying at this 10th anniversary hearing were Ukrainian
Ambassador Yuri Shcherbak, Belarusian Ambassador Martynov;
Georgetown professor Murray Feshbach; Alex Kuzma of Children of
"NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl
nuclear disaster may be responsible for a 30% increase in
leukemia rates among American children born during that time
period, according to New York radiation experts."
"In the months after the accident at Chernobyl, nuclear
fallout was detected in the milk supply in the United States
and remained at high levels until mid-1988, the researchers
wrote in Saturday's issue of The Lancet. . . ."