History of Chоrnobyl

Consequences of the Chornobyl accident for Europe

Consequences of the Chornobyl accident for Europe
Global world problems no longer have borders. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Chornobyl accident of 1986 - it all started with one random point on the map and had an impact on the whole world.
What happened?
On April 6, 1986, during an experiment at the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant near Kyiv, Ukraine, two explosions occurred, which provoked a powerful release of radioactive substances into the environment - up to 13 Exabequerel radionuclides.
A cloud of radioactive dust burst into the Earth's atmosphere, rising 1.2 km above the destroyed reactor and spreading for some time under the action of the wind.
From April 26 to May 10, 1986, the cloud reached the territory of modern Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and the environment of other countries. The wind carried about 200 radioactive isotopes to the northwest through Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chornobyl brought Europe about 7,722 ml² or 20,000 km² of radioactively contaminated areas.
The atlas of radioactive contamination indicates that Sweden (23,400 km²), Finland (19,000 km²), Austria (11,100 km²) and Norway (7,200 km²) were the most contaminated with radionuclides.
Pollution of the territory of a particular country after the Chornobyl accident depended solely on the weather conditions prevailing at that time.
Reports from Soviet and Western scientists indicate that Belarus received about 60% of the total radioactive contamination in the USSR. However, according to The Other Report on Chornobyl, or TORCH report, released in 2006, almost half of the volatile particles landed outside Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
More than half of iodine-131, an element that increases the risk of thyroid cancer, was deposited by a radiation cloud outside the former Soviet Union: Belarus (22%) and Austria (13%) suffered the most from higher levels of pollution.
Other countries have been severely affected; for example, more than 5% of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden were highly contaminated (> 40,000 Bq / m2 caesium-137). More than 80% of Moldova, the European part of Turkey, Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria and the Slovak Republic were contaminated to lower levels (> 4000 Bq / m2 cesium-137). Both 44% of Germany and 34% of the United Kingdom were affected. A possible increase in thyroid cancer has been reported in the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.
To understand how Europe was concerned about the events of Chornobyl, here is an example of the Guardian news of May 3, 1986, published 35 years ago:
3 May 1986: Mainland Europe experiences higher than normal radiation, with Poland, East Germany and Sweden bearing the brunt of contamination
By dusk last night, every country in mainland Europe had experienced higher than normal radiation as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Only the Iberian peninsula was still clear, as governments in East and West, having recovered from the initial panic, started to count the medium-term costs.

Changes in wind direction from the epicentre at Kiev created fresh uncertainties throughout the day. The consensus among meteorologists was that the south-east wind which had done its worst earlier in the week in parts of Poland and Scandinavia was now veering towards due east, affecting Greece, Yugoslavia, and south-west Germany.
France reported “a minor increase” in atmospheric radioactivity, while Holland reported yesterday that, for the first time since the disaster, radiation levels were markedly higher than normal. In that country, government plans to air details of a proposed shift to nuclear power in the 1990s were shelved indefinitely.
The brunt of the contamination continued to be borne by the countries closest to the disaster area – notably Poland and East Germany – as well as Sweden, which has been seeking to take remedial measures since the beginning of the week.
The Swedish authorities ordered farmers to keep their cattle indoors – possibly for some weeks – and said people should not drink rainwater or eat wild vegetables or mushrooms. One fear in Stockholm is that the wind could veer back towards Sweden early next week.
In Poland, the most acutely affected East European country, the public debate continues to be exhaustive but not enough to prevent the panic buying of iodine and uncontaminated foods. The official aim last night was still to give everyone under 16 – well over 10 million – an antidote of sodium iodine to prevent contamination.
The East Germans said that radiation levels in East Berlin were more than 100 times higher than normal but not a danger to health, but the West Germans said they were limiting supplies of fresh milk from the most affected parts of the country. Last night these were Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, the Rhineland, and the Saarland.
The Government and the health authorities, however, warned people against taking iodine pills to counter the possible effects of radiation, as the first cases of iodine poisoning were reported in Hesse.
Over the past few days, chemists have reported a run on iodine tablets all over West Germany, and particularly in West Berlin, where stocks were sold out.
Both Romania and Yugoslavia reported sharp increases in radiation levels. There were warnings from Bucharest not to drink water indiscriminately, and from Belgrade not to stay over long out of doors.
In the Benelux countries, officials reported higher than usual radiation and called for vegetables to be washed, while the Swiss authorities said that, despite radiation at 10 times higher than normal levels, they would be pressing ahead with plans for a further nuclear plant in the 1990s.
Italy yesterday prohibited the sale of salad greens and barred a variety of imports from northern Europe. The Health Minister, Mr Costante Degan signed an order that forbade vendors from selling fresh leafy vegetables.
It is scary for us to read and remember these times. But no less frightening are the natural consequences that Europe has had with Chernobyl.
The United Nations estimates that between 30,000 and 207,000 children with congenital genetic defects will be born worldwide due to the Chernobyl disaster. Experts, in particular, recall that after 1986, 800,000 fewer children were born in Europe than expected. At the same time, the number of newborn girls has decreased significantly.
According to the IAEA, in Western Europe alone, the Chernobyl accident has caused between 100,000 and 200,000 miscarriages. In the Scandinavian countries, infant mortality increased by 15.8 per cent. In Germany, the number of cases of Down syndrome has increased significantly, and in southern Germany, children are increasingly diagnosed with a malignant tumour of nervous tissue - neuroblastoma. Studies have also found a link between the Chernobyl disaster and the sharp rise in the incidence of diabetes among children and young people.
Fifteen years after the Chernobyl disaster, the French continued to suffer from the effects of radioactive contamination. Researchers have gathered evidence to support a link to Chernobyl in patients suffering from autoimmune thyroiditis (the chronic inflammatory process of the thyroid gland). An increase in the number of people suffering from this disease was observed after Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and Ukraine, and Europe after Chernobyl.
And we would like to say that the problem of Chernobyl is now 35 after the disaster has become irrelevant, but we can't. After all, among the decay products at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are uranium-234, 235, 236 and thorium-230 and 232 with half-lives from 75 thousand years to ten billion years. This means that the territory of the Chernobyl accident will NEVER be completely free of radiation. And the world will NEVER get rid of it.