Acute radiation sickness is believed to be a sentence. It is not always so. There is its easy form. Several operators of the fourth power unit, who suffered from radiation sickness, are still alive. Of course, they were treated, some were very seriously.
Today they are quite normal people, positive and healthy, not only socially quite active. They are sometimes healthier than many others, although they partially have limitations regarding their lifestyle (proper regimen, healthy eating, they should not be in direct sunlight).
By the way, a healthy lifestyle and rejection of bad habits have not done harm to anyone yet. Therefore, those recommendations followed by the Chernobyl victims would be useful to absolutely everyone. It is fair to say that mild radiation sickness is not a fatal diagnosis, as a thyroid cancer itself is. Today it is operated on time, due to early diagnosis, and the person is cured.
Question: A special program was organized, according to which the Japanese helped our children with an affected thyroid. Was there similar international assistance in other areas, without which they would not have been able to cope?
Comment: Of course. Especially in the first years after the accident. It’s even difficult to calculate its volumes. Sympathy and help were enormous, especially against the background of outdated socialism, the collapse of the socio-economic system of the USSR. The beginning of the 90s is the continuous poverty of individuals, families, and the same status of the state as a whole. Then international help was very necessary.
Question: Why is the Chernobyl accident considered to be an extraordinary disaster?
Comment: Several factors coincided. The accident occurred on the territory of the state, with advanced, as it was believed, development technologies. Moreover, the maximum attention of the international community was riveted to the Soviet Union, thanks to the “Perestroika” introduced by Gorbachev.
This catastrophe caught the cultural and historical nerve of mankind. At that time, the computer revolution was growing in the world. Against the background of the need for high-quality early diagnosis of diseases, a lot of modern medical diagnostic equipment has begun to appear, capable of determining pathology at an early stage of its development. In addition, radiation was considered fatal at that time.
Paradoxically, it is the most easily measurable environmental contamination factor. But at the same time, it has no smell, no color, it is not visible. A radioactive threat in combination with physical, psychological, symbolic factors enveloped the planet with global fear.
The myths of Chernobyl
Question: May you name three the most senseless myths of Chernobyl?
Comment: Yes, especially since they continue to be actively manipulated to this day.
The first myth: The area around Chernobyl is dead, and there will not be life for about another thousand years.
It is not true. The Chernobyl zone is alive and healthy today, and its flora and fauna are richer than in some forests, parks and squares of modern megalopolises.
The second myth: Radiation is dangerous to health in any quantity, and that even receiving a minimum dose of radiation can lead to tragic consequences.
This is also nonsense. Small doses of radiation are completely neutralized by the human body. His reaction to certain negative phenomena is a mystery with three unknowns. Man is a complex being, and its functions are influenced by thousands of factors.
In order to prove the effect of radiation on certain negative functions, it is necessary to ensure such experimental conditions that all other factors are stable. It is not possible to conduct such an experiment with a human. We can not exactly control the amount of bad sleep, stress, we can not determine the negative impact of malnutrition, lack of active rest and so on.
All of these are also risky factors. Moreover, after all, today the fact of the positive effect of small doses of radiation on the example of plants and mice has been scientifically proven. Science knows its problem.
The third myth: All surviving liquidators are physically and psychologically inferior.
Well, this is generally complete nonsense. After all, what did the liquidators suffer from in the first place? I, like the rest of the liquidators, received radiation doses as part of a radiation injury, which the body coped with. They scared people by promising compensation in case of their illness. Therefore, some from fright, some from an excess of imagination wind up what they want. My personal conclusion is this: a person, as a biological species, is physically created much stronger than is commonly believed. Including in terms of resistance to radiation, which in fact is only one of the factors affecting the environment on the body.
Moreover, we, for example, psychologically, are much more vulnerable to a number of other factors. We are much more susceptible to information risk than radiation, living in an age of total global informatization. One of the obvious lessons of Chernobyl is the uncontrolled access to information, which is associated with the need for knowledge in certain areas of human life. This is when the ordinary pharmacist undertakes to discuss the theory of relativity.
There have been cases when people who are far from nuclear physics and do not know the theoretical foundations of nuclear energy criticize the ability of our specialists to eliminate the consequences of such a large-scale technological disaster. The danger of an inadequate reaction to a headquarters decision to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident has always been present.
Resettlement: the exclusion zones
Question: How did the residents perceive the need for resettlement and were the authorities ready to panic among the population?
Comment: We must always be prepared with our mentality of panic. I believe that it was just necessary to inform people better, to warn in advance as truthfully as possible about the possible consequences, giving everyone the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons, make the right decision about their own security.
I mean that when the explosion occurred, few people knew and understood that it was necessary to close immediately all the ventilation windows, not to go outside, and not to run out in a state of perplexed shock to look at the bright spectacle, taking with them the children.
Question: Did the hiding reliable information affect the mood of citizens?
Comment: Affected. On the one hand, there were the hiding from reliable information, on the other hand, there were gossip, rumors, all kinds of unreasonable facts that are born, just against the background of the lack of real information about the situation. Moreover, even today, with freedom of speech, some media circulate the same rumors, the effect of which is the same as in 1986. To this day, there is no well-established, coordinated with all necessary services, system of informing the population about emergency situations in the country. This is another Chernobyl lesson.
Besides the fact that we honor the memory of the dead liquidators, something else needs to be done. As practice has shown, we have not learned to make conclusions – what is worth the panic and rumor around the Chernobyl forest that was burning last year.
Question: Has Ukraine already completed the liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl NPP?
Comment: In no case. These effects subside rather naturally. Alas, even taking into account the fact that Ukraine has been faced with the largest eco-disaster of the twentieth century, we still do not fully understand the promising policy of comprehensive elimination of the consequences of technological disasters.
You must admit that effective elimination can only be comprehensive. It is necessary to combine social, informational, cultural, economic aspects. And today, in practice, the issue of responsibility for the exclusion zone is scattered between departments. There is no concentration of effort and interaction, so one side of the accident smoothly flows into the other.
Question: An updated and super modern sarcophagus – is it justifiable expenses?
Comment: For 33 years after the accident, there was not a single emergency situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which would carry a danger beyond 30 km zones. The sarcophagus, of course, is necessary. Nevertheless, it must be treated as a kind of hangar – a strong, complex structure that can isolate the destroyed power unit from the environment so that neither wind nor water gets there. No more.
This is not some kind of object that has miraculous power and protects the planet from similar cataclysms in the future. The sarcophagus is certainly an indicator of positive work to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. But even he does not completely solve the problem. The problem is a subject only to time. In the meantime, you need to know that long-lived radionuclides that caused pollution are:
Strontium-90 (half-life ~ 29 years)
Cesium-137 (half-life ~ 30 years)
Americium-241 (half-life ~ 432 years)
Plutonium-239 (half-life ~ 24110 years)